Hugh was voted the winner of the New Materials Zone in November 2018. Here he writes about using his prize money to host a STEM careers day for students from all over Ireland at the Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research Centre, where he works.
If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.ie/scientist-apply.
I won I’m a Scientist in November 2018 and I used the money to host a Science & Careers event in the Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research (AMBER) Centre, based in Trinity College Dublin. I invited students from all around Ireland to learn about STEM careers from a variety of AMBER researchers. The goal was to show that what ties all STEM fields together is the focus on solving problems and creating new knowledge, and in that, there is something for everyone.
The event began with researcher talks ranging from nanotechnology to engineering, the future of batteries and energy storage, biomedical engineering and seeing the individual atoms of materials with the microscopes housed in Trinity College’s Advanced Microscopy Lab. Each researcher highlighted the path they had taken to reach their current position, which was generally not a direct route, and gave lots of advice. Many of their positions or research areas didn’t even exist 10 years ago, which gives inspiration that in ten years time there will almost certainly be jobs we can’t imagine now. The students were full of questions and the engagement during these talks was excellent!
After the talks, we provided lunch for the students, and hosted pop up workshops, we had microscopes, bioresearch samples and 3D printed materials for health, equipment for building electrical circuits, and some activities to learn about and experience static electricity and electrostatic repulsion as well as some build challenges.
We then split into groups and toured some of the research labs. Students got to help in a gold nanoparticle synthesis, see the labs where single atom thick 2-D materials are grown, then visit another lab where these 2-D materials are being printed onto plastics as batteries for wearable devices of the future! We also toured the cleanroom and got to visit the labs of researchers who work on magnetic materials for the future of memory storage.
We couldn’t let them go home empty handed, and thanks to I’m A Scientist, Science Foundation Ireland, Trinity Science Office and Intel we were able to provide goodie bags, information on STEM careers, some notebooks and pens and a little book of Irish science as inspiration.
In all, €250 was spent on resources and workshop demo materials, €200 was spent on food and a further €50 was spent on the goodie bags. This was an extremely successful event, and the experience of the students and the researchers involved has been wholly positive.
Since I’m a Scientist I have run a week-long transition year event at AMBER, attended a science teachers conference to talk about educational resources we are developing around our cutting-edge research. I made a video for an AMBER visit to a school for Engineers week. I plan on continuing taking part in outreach activities into the future as much as I can.
I have really enjoyed my experience with I’m a Scientist and I would really recommend it to anyone considering getting involved!