Enquiry Zone: Students as scientists

Some say there are no new ideas, just new interpretations of old ideas: primary school students designed the Blackawton Bees paper with the help of a parent scientist; citizen science runs online at scale with Galaxy Zoo; the BBC, with Terrific Scientific, help primary schools conduct their experiments. There is an idea missing in this panoply: School students helping to design and run a new experiment at scale. In March 2017 we ran the Wellcome funded Enquiry Zone, a zone created with one fundamental question: Could we use an I’m a Scientist zone to give hundreds of school students the chance to help design an experiment, which they could then carry out themselves? Yes, we could. And what’s more, it’s clear there is value in giving students input at all stages of the project. It gives students ownership over research, and they gain real insight into how science works. What happened … Continue reading

Posted on November 23, 2017 by Moderator - Josh in Case Study, News | Comments Off on Enquiry Zone: Students as scientists

Perspectives on Partnership

“The Gold Standard”; “Diamond Option”; “Go Platinum!” There is a continual pressure to strive for the biggest, best, most committed options in life. Sometimes, however, we should recognise that our organisations and partners might not want, or be ready for, the “Ultimate Mega-Package.” In the Public Engagement sector there is a consensus that the best engagement is: two-way upstream involving researchers and interested public in-depth considered includes knowledge transfer novel and innovative* NCCPE “Perspectives on Partnership” Tool It was a real pleasure at last week’s NCCPE organised SUPI review seminar to witness Sophie Duncan and Paul Manners reveal their Perspectives on Partnership (POP) Tool to help universities and schools assess what type of partnership they have and desire. The tool recognises four types of partnership: Spontaneous Inspired Thoughtful Strategic The participants are then asked to consider a partnership from each of four participants perspectives: Researchers Teachers Students Partnership brokers I … Continue reading

Posted on October 17, 2017 by ModShane in News | Comments Off on Perspectives on Partnership

Moderator Vacancy: November 2017

We’re looking for two moderators to work with us on our November 2017 events! The events will run from the 6th to the 17th November 2017; I’m a Scientist UK and Ireland, I’m an Engineer UK and I’m a Medic. First rule of moderator club… This is a paid, 10 day job. If you aren’t free from 8:30 – 4:30pm on all 10 days, please don’t apply. Your key responsibilities will be: Checking and approving questions Adding appropriate keywords Logging and keeping track of questions, comments and dialogue Checking the site for errors and inappropriate content and usernames Moderating live chats Helping to run the site It’s actually a lot of fun as the students (and scientists) are quick and funny and full of energy. And hey, promoting science engagement is a good thing, am I right?! What we’d like from you.. You should be bright, thoughtful, pick stuff up easily, ideally with an interest … Continue reading

Posted on October 9, 2017 by modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Moderator Vacancy: November 2017

Thinking about Science Capital

We’re thinking increasingly about Science Capital and how we apply it to our projects. It is a powerful concept that resonates strongly with what we aim to do and we want to make sure our projects make as much of a positive contribution to young people’s Science Capital as they can. We are looking for ways to evaluate in relation to Science Capital to show whether we are achieving this. What is Science Capital? If you’ve read the 2013 ASPIRES report you’ll be familiar with this striking graph showing that although nearly 80% of UK students value science, less than 20% aspire to be scientists. Why is this? Graph courtesy of ASPIRES/ASPIRES2: ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-centres/departments/education-practice-and-society/aspires Based on their research, the ASPIRES team have developed the concept of Science Capital; the combination of experiences, personal connections, knowledge and attitudes that contribute to how much a young person identifies as a “science person”. The … Continue reading

Posted on October 6, 2017 by modbecky in Evaluation, News | Comments Off on Thinking about Science Capital

How do students from different schools engage with IAS?

Thousands of school students meet scientists through I’m a Scientist every year, and they ask thousands of questions. In June 2017, over 3,000 students took part, asking scientists more than 2,500 questions in the ASK section alone. This is also the event that we implemented our question coding system across all the zones to see what students are asking about. This all got us thinking: Do students from different types of schools ask more or less of certain question types? We’ve identified two groups we want to look at: Under-served: Schools more than 30 minutes travel time from a major research HEI Widening Participation: Schools with an above average number of students eligible for free school meals Taking the questions from the I’m a Scientist zones in June 2017 it appears that: Overall, the split of questions is similar across all groups of students Under-served students ask more “science topics” … Continue reading

Posted on September 14, 2017 by modnaomi in Evaluation, News, Widening Participation | Comments Off on How do students from different schools engage with IAS?

“I’m a Scientist is great, but wouldn’t it be better if students could see and hear the scientists too?”

This is a question we get asked from time to time. Here we explain why we’re confident that text interaction remains the best format for effective online engagement: it makes students and scientists more comfortable, levels the playing field between adults and children, and makes the events accessible to a wider audience. Students are more familiar with text-based chats. There is growing evidence¹ that young people communicate most via text and less and less through phone or video and we’re hearing that anecdotally too. Feedback from teachers has pointed out that students are not only more familiar with a text format but also more comfortable with it. All parties feel more confident about not being visible. As an ex-teacher myself, the thought of making a class visible online to an unknown person via a webcam makes me uncomfortable. I’d also be concerned about scientists inadvertently displaying confidential or inappropriate material in … Continue reading

Posted on August 4, 2017 by modkatie in Evaluation, IAS Event, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on “I’m a Scientist is great, but wouldn’t it be better if students could see and hear the scientists too?”

What do students ASK about?

Our events generate huge amounts of interesting data, which we know contains all sorts of valuable insights. When there’s so much of it, it can take a while to work out how to make best use of it. One example of this is thematic analysis of the questions students post in ASK. Over the years of running the event we’ve developed a pretty good sense of the types of things students ask about and will always showcase great examples of questions. Converting that into a systematised, reportable analysis is more difficult, but can be done. So, we have developed a system for coding questions based on a set of themes that students often ask about, and after some trials in March, we’ve applied it to all zones in the June event (read the latest reports here). At their broadest level, most student questions fall into one of three areas: questions about the … Continue reading

Posted on July 17, 2017 by modbecky in Evaluation, News | 1 Comment

‘My spirit is uplifted’ – June 2017 Winners blog posts

After every event we ask the winning scientists to write a short post to be sent to all the students who took part in the zone. It’s the perfect way for the scientists to reflect on the previous two weeks, thank all the students for voting for them, and talk about how they plan to use their £500 prize money. If you’re a scientist keen to experience the ‘best crash course in scicomm’, apply now for the next event, taking place 6th–17th November, at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply   Sanjib Bhakta, Birkbeck University of London, Drug Resistance Zone I never believed live-chat could be so easy and often stress-busting! My special thanks to all the students for engaging constructively and asking brilliant questions all round. I am reassured that all your intensely inquisitive minds, love, passion and extended hands will make global health emergencies like drug resistance appear trivial and under control in the near … Continue reading

Posted on June 30, 2017 by modantony in News, Scientists | Comments Off on ‘My spirit is uplifted’ – June 2017 Winners blog posts

Partner with I’m a Scientist on Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research

Research Councils UK have announced the Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) programme. The aim is to help HEI’s and Research Institutes embed Public Engagement within their organisations and to address identified challenges stopping it being embedded. I’m a Scientist is offering to partner with an applicant or multiple applicants for SEE-PER to help address issues of: Supporting Public Engagement in Research Motivations for PER Making PER sustainable We have a strong track record in public engagement not just with the event itself, but in the follow-on activities carried out by all participants. One clear message that comes from participating scientists is that they want to do more Public Engagement and the evidence is that they do go on to do more engagement. We would like to work with HEI’s and Research Institutes to investigate why I’m a Scientist acts as a boost to researchers public … Continue reading

Posted on June 21, 2017 by ModShane in Project News | Comments Off on Partner with I’m a Scientist on Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research

Our new theme!

In the last year I’m a Scientist has developed more than at any other time since we launched in 2010. We’ve hired new people, moved offices, moved servers, launched and relaunched multiple international projects (Vietnam, Spain, and Kenya), started projects like I’m a Medic and I’m a Researcher, developed a new Live Chat system (see Tim Peake using it for the I’m an Astronaut event), we even celebrated our company 15th anniversary… And to meet the needs of all these developments we’ve created a sleek new theme for the site. The ‘theme’ is like the skin of the website. It doesn’t really change the functionality, just the style and way it looks. This new theme is a huge improvement over the previous one: It’s fully mobile responsive – making it more accessible for scientists and students on whichever device they might be using. It’s flexible and easy to implement – meaning we can roll … Continue reading

Posted on June 13, 2017 by modemily in General, News, Project News | Comments Off on Our new theme!

Demand vs. Capacity: June 2017

We’ve just let down about 8,000 students. Their teachers, 84 of them, wanted to take part in I’m a Scientist this June and we simply don’t have room for them. We need more funding. The graph shows the number of class places requested by teachers (box outline), against the funded places we were able to run (colour-fill) for each event. Demand has consistently exceeded places available for the past 9 events; indeed for the past 6 events, we could have run double the number of zones we did. Double the number of young people seeing that scientists are normal people like themselves. Double the number of scientists taking part in “the best crash course in science communication”. The Wellcome Trust and the British Psychological Society are funding zones this June. If you are interested in getting more physicists, chemists, non-biomed scientists involved in outreach, if you think more students should get the opportunity to … Continue reading

Posted on June 1, 2017 by modantony in Capacity, News | Comments Off on Demand vs. Capacity: June 2017

I had the chance to ask real scientist about questions I was interested in and I got really interesting answers. I had the chance to learn something from the experience of these scientists instead of learning from books. Student, March 2017

Posted on April 18, 2017 by modmichaela in News | Comments Off on

This has been a great opportunity for me to take a step back and approach my work with a new perspective and I’m heading back to the lab with a renewed enthusiasm. Craig O’Hare, Scientist, March 2017

Posted on April 11, 2017 by modmichaela in Quote, Scientist Quote | Comments Off on

The students were thrilled they were talking to real life engineers and they were responding to them individually. The excitement when their question was answered was fantastic! This sort of opportunity doesn’t arrive easily. Teacher, March 2017

Posted on April 4, 2017 by modantony in Quote, Teacher Quote | Tagged | Comments Off on

March 2017 Winner Blogs

After every event we ask the winning scientists to write a short blog to be sent to all the students who took part in the zone. It’s the perfect way for the scientists to reflect on the previous two weeks, thank all the students for voting for them, and talk about how they plan to use their £500 prize money. If you’re a scientist keen to experience the ‘best crash course in scicomm’, apply now for the next event at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply Let’s take a look at what the March Winners had to say… Carrie Ijichi, Animal Behaviour Zone The students have blown my mind with their open, creative inquiries about animal behaviour and how much they care about the subject. To be voted the winner at the end of all that fun was such a surprise and made me feel really special. I want to thank all the students who asked questions … Continue reading

Posted on March 23, 2017 by modmichaela in News, Scientists | Comments Off on March 2017 Winner Blogs

Travel Time

Last summer we wrote a post about using distance as a measure for identifying widening participation schools.Since then, we have completed our map (pictured) of schools in the UK which lie farther than 25 miles from a major research institution. In July we mentioned that travel time, in place of as-the-crow-flies distance may be a better measure of accessibility. We want to look at schools far from HEIs as these schools are more difficult for scientists and researchers to reach; a PhD student is much more likely to travel 20 minutes to a school to give a workshop, than take out an entire day to visit a school an hour away. While distance does provide a reasonable measure for accessibility, it does miss out some of the nuance in more rural or coastal areas. Our measure could be improved. We got in touch with iGeolise, who specialise in travel time data, … Continue reading

Posted on February 23, 2017 by Moderator - Josh in Widening Participation | Comments Off on Travel Time

This event has been a real opportunity for me, and I have learnt so much about communicating science to students embarking on their journey of scientific learning. Lauren Burt, Scientist, November 2016

Posted on February 22, 2017 by modantony in Quote, Scientist Quote | Tagged | Comments Off on

The children here refused to leave until the result was announced!! And what a commotion when the winner’s name came up – worse than X Factor….Great to see children so excited about Science. Teacher, November 2016

Posted on February 10, 2017 by modantony in Quote, Teacher Quote | Tagged | Comments Off on

Moderator Vacancy March 2017

We’re looking for a moderator to work with us on our March 2017 events! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists and engineers. The events will run from the 6th to the 17th March 2017; I’m a Scientist UK and I’m an Engineer UK and Ireland. First rule of moderator club… This is a paid, 10 day job. If you aren’t free from 8:30 – 4:30pm on all 10 days, please don’t apply. Your key responsibilities will be: Checking and approving questions Adding appropriate keywords and tags Logging and keeping track of questions, comments and dialogue Checking the site for errors and inappropriate content and usernames Moderating live chats Helping to run the site It’s actually a lot of fun as the students (and scientists) are quick and funny and full of energy. And hey, promoting science … Continue reading

Posted on February 8, 2017 by modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Moderator Vacancy March 2017

Demand vs. Capacity: March 2017

This afternoon we apologised to 47 schools, telling teachers that we have not been able to offer their students a place in I’m a Scientist this March. The graph shows the number of class places requested by teachers (box outline), against the funded places we were able to run (colour-fill) for each event. Demand has consistently exceeded places available for the past 8 events; indeed for the past 5 events, we could have run double the number of zones we did. Double the number of young people becoming more enthused about science. Double the number of scientists taking part in “the best crash course in science communication”. Our limiting factor is funding. We need more funding to run more zones and increase the capacity of the events. Unfortunately the Royal Society of Chemistry has withdrawn their funding planned for this year and the STFC funding we had has not been renewed, meaning spaces for chemistry and … Continue reading

Posted on February 3, 2017 by Moderator - Josh in Capacity, News | Comments Off on Demand vs. Capacity: March 2017