Category Archives: Evaluation

I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer 2019 – Summary Report

IAS and IAE Ireland 2019 Summary Report Cover

Click image above to read full report [PDF]

In 2019 we ran eight school zones in Ireland: Four in I’m a Scientist and three in I’m an Engineer. Additionally, we ran a public zone: Shape the Future.

This report summarises our 2019 activities.


  • Activity in live chats has increased by 35%. While overall engagement levels remained relatively steady across the events compared with the previous year, and with a similar number of students actively taking part, 2019 saw more than 10,000 additional lines of live chat written compared with 2018 (39,266 up from 29,033).
  • The majority of students taking part in the events were from underserved communities, with 57% of students taking part from schools in SFI target counties.
  • The Shape the Future Zone successfully engaged students and the public in 3D printing and its role in helping to create a sustainable future. 48 different and creative ideas were submitted showing how people of different ages had interpreted the brief. Between July and November 2019, the Shape the Future site was viewed 23,916 times by 1,991 users. The winning water filter idea will be produced, and promoted by the winner, continuing the impact of this zone.
  • Students saw a wide range of science and engineering happening across Ireland, helping them to better understand how science and engineering is done, and smashing stereotypes:
    • When teachers who took part in our 2019 projects (IAS and IAE in Ireland and the UK) were asked to rate the effectiveness of the project from 1 (not effective) to 5 (highly effective), teachers gave average scores of:
      • 4.1 (n=119) in terms of teaching students about how science works
      • 4.3 (n=122) for improving students motivations towards science/engineering
      • 4.5 (n=122) helping students to see how science/engineering relates to the world around them, and
      • 4.6 (n=122) for challenging students’ stereotypes about scientists/engineers.
  • Scientists and engineers improved their communications skills and gained a greater appreciation for the value of their work.
    • 80% (20/25) reported an increase in their appreciation of the value of their work, and 72% (18/25) in their enthusiasm towards their own work.
    • 88% (22/25) reported increases in their skill and confidence at communicating their work, and 92% (23/25) said that their interest in public engagement had increased.

Read the report: I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer Ireland 2019: Summary Report [PDF]

Posted on February 24, 2020 ModJosh in Evaluation | Leave a comment

I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer – 2018 Report

Click to read the full report (PDF)

In 2018 we ran eight zones. Three I’m an Engineer zones in February–March ( Health, Production and Space), and five I’m a Scientist zones in November (Environmental Care, Genes, New Materials, Smart Data and Neon).

Key findings:

  • Engagement levels in IAS have increased in IAS when compared with the 2017 event. An additional 11 schools took part (58 in 2018, compared with 47 in 2017), and 420 additional students registered (1,958, up from 1,538). Students asked nearly twice as many questions as were asked in 2017 (5,057, up from 2,559).
  • We have demonstrated the success of online engagement in terms of reaching students who are normally underserved by the sector. 1,360 students from SFI target counties took part (58% of total students). These students asked 3,425 questions in ASK, and contributed nearly 10,000 lines of live chat.
    • Additionally, the project continues to offer scientists and engineers the opportunity to engage with students on a national level, without the need for travel from their place of work: “I loved the idea of getting the chance to engage with younger students on a national level, all without having to travel around the country.” — Engineer, post-event interview
  • Students reported that they were inspired to study STEM subjects, saw that scientists and engineers are people like them, and saw how what they learn in school relates to the world around them:
    • “I’ve learnt a lot about the daily tasks of a scientist and how much science and scientific research means to society and even in our daily everyday lives. Although, most importantly I’ve realized that I myself want to pursue a career related to science.” — Student, post-event survey
    • “I have learnt that scientists aren’t just super geniuses or evil scientists (only some!). I have learnt that scientists are also like everyday people I meet!” — Student, post-event survey
    • “i thought having a job that has go to do with science would be very stressful day to day but the scientist i have met and read about made me aware of the good parts of being a scientist and that made me change my ways of thinking and motivated me into thinking of taking up a job that includes S.T.E.M.” — Student, post-event survey
  • The online format allowed every student in the class to engage:
    • “I really liked the communication format because students, not having to speak in front of everybody, felt free to ask questions that might have been very curious to them but that would have never asked in person, because shy or afraid (wrongly) to look less clever.” — Scientist, post-event survey
    • When asked to rate the effectiveness of the projects in terms of engaging the whole class — on a scale from 1 (not very effective) to 5 (highly effective) — teachers gave an average score of 4.3 (n=26).
    • “Every chat I did I felt like all the kids were fully engaging and really wanted to learn more about engineering.” — Engineer, post-event interview
  • Taking part revitalises scientists’ and engineers’ attitudes to their own work:
    • 74% (n=23) reported improved enthusiasm towards their own work; 70% (n=23) reported an increased appreciation of the value of their own work.
  • Taking part develops participants’ interest in, confidence, and skill at public engagement and communicating their work:
    • 74% (n=23) of scientists and engineers reported an increased interest in public engagement; 70% (n=23) reported increased confidence, and 70% (n=23) increased skill at communicating their work.
  • Severe weather and snow during Engineers’ Week in February 2018 led to significant school closures; despite this we managed to maintain some level of engagement in the IAE project even during the closures.
Posted on February 5, 2019 modantony in Evaluation | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer – 2018 Report

I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer – 2017 Report

In 2017 we ran seven zones. Three I’m an Engineer zones in February–March (Energy, Health, and Space), and four I’m a Scientist zones in November (Diagnosis, Energy, Food, and Fluorine).

Our key findings were:

  • We have improved on engagement rates in IAS since previous years. With more schools and students registering than the historic average (average of 12 schools and 384 students per zone), additionally the percentage of students actively participating in ASK, CHAT, VOTE, or leaving a comment is up to 90%. This has led to more questions being asked and answered than the historic averages. The percentage of active students in IAE however, has dropped to 80% with fewer questions in ASK, or lines of live CHAT.
  • We have been successful in using online engagement to reach students who are normally under-served by the sector. In total, 1,111 students from target schools (DEIS, or in an SFI target county) actively participated in the events; 54% of the active participants.
  • Taking part improves attitudes of scientists and engineers to public engagement. The experience made them more confident in communicating their work, and 96% of respondents felt that they’d like to take part in more public engagement.
  • Taking part leaves most students feeling more positive about working in a STEM career. However, for a proportion of those initially not likely to consider a STEM career, the event confirms their decision.

Read the report here: I’m a Scientist & I’m an Engineer Ireland 2017: Evaluation Report (PDF)

Posted on February 14, 2018 ModJosh in Evaluation | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer – 2017 Report

Demand vs. Capacity for I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer Ireland

In the I’m a Scientist Ireland project pilot in 2012 we ran three zones, since then we have run four zones every year. While we were under capacity in the pilot, the demand for the activity from teachers has remained relatively consistent and looks to be increasing.

I’m a Scientist IE class requests and capacity by academic year — November 2012 – November 2015

I’m a Scientist IE class requests and capacity by academic year — November 2012 – November 2015

Assuming the trend carries on, we would easily be able to run a fifth or even sixth zone in November this year.

The story in I’m an Engineer is a little different.

I’m an Engineer IE class requests and capacity by academic year — November 2014 – February 2016

I’m an Engineer IE class requests and capacity by academic year — November 2014 – February 2016

For the past couple of years we have run two I’m an Engineer events each year; one with the I’m a Scientist event in November, and one in February to coincide with Engineers Week Ireland.

In the first year, we saw teachers favouring the November event albeit only slightly, in 2015/16 though we saw a huge shift towards February, with demand being almost twice what was expected.

The increased demand is too big to come only from existing teachers opting to take part during Engineers Week instead of earlier in the year. More investigation is needed to say how much, but a lot of the demand must have come from new teachers signing up.

In November 2016 there will be no I’m an Engineer event. Our plan is to move the Engineer activity to February alone, keeping the Scientist activity in November.

What is clear — clearer still where we combine the data sets— is that the school demand for our online STEM engagement activities is growing. We need to find ways to increase capacity and offer more students in Ireland the opportunity to take part.

I’m a Scientist and I'm an Engineer IE combined class requests and capacity by academic year — November 2012 – February 2016

I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer IE combined class requests and capacity by academic year — November 2012 – February 2016

Update: 3 June 2016

Requests by country

Graphs of class requests by country for I'm a Scientist and I'm an Engineer Ireland

Class requests by country for I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer Ireland — Click for larger view

We had a quick look at how many of the class requests discussed above came from schools in different countries.

As the graphs show, the majority of requests are coming from schools in the Republic of Ireland, with far fewer coming from Northern Ireland, and the occasional request from a couple of international schools.

Schools in Northern Ireland have always been invited to take part in the Irish events as well as the UK events.

Moving forward, Northern Irish schools will be invited to take part in the UK events only. The occasional international school taking part will now be asked to pay a small charge to do so, this cost to the school will go towards running additional zones in the future.

Posted on June 2, 2016 ModJosh in Evaluation, News | Comments Off on Demand vs. Capacity for I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer Ireland

I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer – 2015 Report

SFI cover

Click here to download the full report.

In 2015, we ran six zones: Three I’m a Scientist themed zones (Nanoscience, Drug Synthesis and Food Science), one I’m a Scientist general zone (Nitrogen Zone) with a mix of scientists from different areas, one I’m an Engineer themed zone around computing (Boole Zone) and one general engineering zone (Metre Zone).

Our key findings in 2015:

  • We have improved I’m an Engineer audience numbers since last year. In 2014 we ran I’m an Engineer for the first time in Ireland and we got an average of 208 students logged in per zone. In 2015, we have even exceeded our target of 330 students per zone, with 377 students in the Boole Zone, and 350 in the Metre Zone.
  • We have improved the diversity of the scientists and engineers taking part. 10% of the participants were from a black or minority ethnic background, and we got a perfect gender balance in both I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer.
  • 90% of students think they know more about the skills required to be an engineer, the type of people who work as engineers, and engineers’ role in society after taking part in I’m an Engineer.

Download the full report here (PDF).

Posted on January 26, 2016 modangela in Evaluation | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer – 2015 Report

November 2014 Event Evaluation Report

Click to download the full report

Click to download the full report

In November 2014 we ran I’m a Scientist in Ireland for the third time, and we run our first I’m an Engineer event in Ireland. We ran four I’m a Scientist and two I’m an Engineer zones. Two of the I’m a Scientist zones were themed (Evolution and Sustainability) and two of them were general (Boron and Beryllium). One of the I’m an Engineer zones was themed (Energy) and the other one was general (Kelvin).

This report looks at how the event went. Our key findings were:

  • Students are inspired to learn more about science and get interested in science related jobs
  • Students understand what engineers do and what engineering is all about
  • Scientists and engineers consider they have improved their communication skills
  • Scientists and engineers get enthused about public engagement and want to do more of it after taking part

Download the report here.

Posted on December 10, 2014 modangela in Evaluation, News | Comments Off on November 2014 Event Evaluation Report

Crowdfunding confusion

fundit-logo-headerThe funding for this project comes in part from the Science Foundation Ireland and the other half comes from elsewhere. We’ve got funding from the Wellcome Trust, the European Society for Evolutionary Biology and the Royal Society for Chemistry. Traditionally we try to get a zone funded by large company employing lots of scientists and engineers. A company whose business relies on a science friendly population and education system. Traditionally we get nowhere.

This year we thought we’d try something different. We thought we’d ask lots of small companies who rely on scientists and engineers to fund us a little. We thought we’d try crowdfunding.

It didn’t work.

We created two campaigns and promoted them both through our networks and through other networks. The response was almost non-existent. Why?

We could have promoted it harder. But it was clear from our initial publicity that promotion wasn’t leading to pledges. From our first burst of activity we had such a little response that it was clear that even an enormous amount of promotion would still have left us short.

Companies need time to plan. Yes, they do, but it was my expectation that the amount of money we were asking for would be discretionery spend. And the one pledge of €250 showed that to be a possibility.

Companies don’t understand science engagement. Sure, there are some companies who understand what you mean by science outreach and engagement. But perhaps not that many and perhaps not so much those who also have the flexibility to pledge €250. I found myself having to explain the event and what it was trying to do. I’m not convinced it was fully appreciated.

People don’t get crowdfunding. Sure you do. You’re reading a blog that you probably found via a link on twitter. You get crowdfunding because you’re part of the online crowd. but the people running small businesses don’t get it in the same way. It’s not the norm. A central concept of crowdfunding is that unless the campaign is successful it doesn’t cost you, the pledger, a cent. It’s brilliant. It means you only buy into SUCCESS. But that isn’t blindingly obvious. I think it is still some time before it becomes mainstream.

Will we try next year? I think so. We’ll start earlier. We’ll prime the audience a little more. And if we fail again, we’ll make sure we learn again.

Posted on October 24, 2014 iasieadmin in Evaluation, News | Comments Off on Crowdfunding confusion

November 2013 Event Evaluation Report

IASIE report imageIn November 2013 we run I’m a Scientist in Ireland for the second time. We run 4 zones: two themed on Nanotechnology and Space and two general zones named Helium and Lithium with a mix of 5 scientists.

This report looks at how the event went. One of the main points of the report is our analysis of the impact that the event had on students’ perception of science. We found out that students’ interest in science and science related careers is clearly increased after taking part in I’m a Scientist. We also report on teacher and scientist feedback, which was generally very positive. As one teacher said: “This event offers the opportunity to do something different; an activity that brings out new strengths and abilities”. Sandra Byrne. Teacher

Download the report here.

Posted on December 19, 2013 modemily in Evaluation | Comments Off on November 2013 Event Evaluation Report

Evaluating I’m a Scientist – Ireland

IAS Ireland Logo May 2012Back in November 2012 we ran I’m a Scientist in Ireland for the first time. In short, it was a real success.

The enthusiasm shown by teachers, students and scientists was magnificent and the students really got into the spirit of the event.

The full evaluation report is up on the Irish site ( alongside a short summary of our findings.

In summary, we would love to run more events in Ireland.

Posted on May 15, 2013 modemily in Evaluation | Comments Off on Evaluating I’m a Scientist – Ireland