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. 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. 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 … Continue reading
Claire was voted the winner of the Nanoscience Zone in November 2015. She got straight to work making the most of her €500 and here she tells us all about what she’s been able to do with it… Initially before taking part in the I’m A Scientist competition I had decided that I would make some short animated videos that would help students with understanding complicated ideas. However during the online chats while I was talking with a few students it became clear that they would prefer a visit to the research labs where I am doing my PhD. When I won, I got planning with the Education and Outreach Officer, Aoife MacCormac, in the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (this is the research centre where I carry out my work). I extended the invitation to as many schools as possible that were able to visit and in the end I had 26 students … Continue reading
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 … Continue reading
After every event we ask the zone winners to write a short blog post to be sent to all the students in who took part in the zone. It’s a great way for the scientists to reflect on the previous two weeks and thank all the students for voting for them. Let’s take a look the winners from I’m a Scientist Ireland 2015 had to say… Sinead, Drug Synthesis Zone I didn’t realise at the time I signed up just how much I would be waiting in expectation of the next chat, or for new questions to appear in the ASK section. Talking about science with you guys, on your terms and with your questions, was enjoyable and an honour. Being able to share my love of science with you filled me with a sense of pride and really reminded me what science is for: to learn and to pass … Continue reading
Sive Finlay won the Lithium Zone back in November 2013, and won €500 to spend on public engagement with science. Here she tells us what she got up to with it… I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in I’m a Scientist and winning the prize money was an unexpected bonus of a great experience. I donated the money to the Trinity College Dublin Zoological Museum: a beautiful, unusual collection of animals which forms an important part of the Zoology department’s public outreach activities. Founded in 1777, the museum houses a collection of over 25,000 unusual specimens, some of which date back to the voyages of Captain Cook. It is an important teaching resource for the college and contains many examples of extinct and endangered species including a Tasmanian wolf, passenger pigeon, kakapo and Giant Irish Deer remains. The museum is in the midst of major refurbishment while we welcome more public visitors and school groups than ever before. My prize money … Continue reading
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.
The 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 FundIt.ie 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. … Continue reading
Enda O’Connell won the Health Zone back in 2012, and won €500 to spend on public engagement with science. Let’s take a look at how he spent his prize money! I took part in the first ever Irish I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here in 2012, and slotted into that year’s Health Zone as I work in the National University of Ireland, Galway in the area of biomedical science, mainly in cancer research and stem cell biology. This was my first ever involvement with science outreach and engagement and I had an amazing experience, which I put down to the infectious enthusiasm shown by the students for science during the online chats. One of the tools I use every day is an automated liquid handling system called Janus (manufactured by Perkin Elmer), which was dubbed a “cancer-fighting robot” by one of the students taking part. They seemed fascinated by Janus … Continue reading
In 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.
Paul won the Space Zone in November 2012, find out how he spent his winnings: I participated in the Space Zone of the 2012 Irish I’m A Scientist contest while finishing off my PhD. I was both surprised and elated to win it! (proof: sciencecalling.com/2012/11/23/primary-school-students-pick-top-scientists) I then defended my thesis, got married, and moved to California…whew. Finally, this summer I was granted a bit of free time to kick off my ‘dream’ project: SolarSurfer.org. My proposal is to build an interactive, story-driven, educational website to help bring astronomy and space concepts into the Irish class room. I managed to put together a consortium of solar scientists, teacher and outreach consultants, and web/game/graphic design developers. Using the Irish school curriculum, with the help of Irish school teachers, we are designing lessons that can be used in the class room to teach concepts such as magnetism, gravity, and the planets. The lessons … Continue reading