Fiana was voted the winner of the Genes Zone in November 2018. Here she writes about using her prize money to attend a workshop to improve her science communication skills, and buy resources for her research group to use at outreach events.
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 the Genes Zone of I’m a Scientist in November 2018 and I planned to use the €500 prize money to buy materials to use at science fairs and other events. That is exactly what I did! The hard part was deciding on what props and materials would be the most exciting across all ages, no matter the event.
I was so lucky to have been chosen to travel to Chicheley Hall in the UK to take part in the ‘Communicating Your Science’ workshop run by the Genetics Society. I used €150 of the prize money to cover the costs of flights and travel to get me to the UK. At the workshop I learned some key skills in how best to tell the story of science and the work that I do.
Taking part in the workshop helped to focus me on the materials and tools I needed to help describe my research. I purchased a second-hand iPad for €120 which I can take with me to play informative videos and show images no matter where I go. I then spent the remaining €230 of the prize money on other tools including 2 interactive DNA model building kits, a fun brain teddy and other engaging materials to explain genetics. I also purchased two colourful 5 foot inflatable DNA double helix models to draw in a crowd, and of course make for interesting conversations about genetics.
I was able to try out all of these materials in September 2019 at PROBE European Researchers Night at Trinity College Dublin organised by the Science Gallery Dublin. With the rest of the Autism & Neurodevelopmental Research Team at TCD, we set up a stand in our main front square along with lots of other researchers in the university. PROBE welcomed in members of the public and allowed us to show everyone exactly what we do.
Here are some photos of the night! It was a great success and we were able to engage with so many people who were interested in science and answer any questions they had.
I can’t wait to bring everything that I was able to buy with the prize money to many more events to come. Taking part in I’m a Scientist was a great experience for me and now myself and the research team have all of these amazing tools to share our work with the world for years to come. Thank you to everyone involved!