‘I’m a Scientist, get me out of here’

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Rebecca Jones recently competed in the ‘I’m a Scientist, get me out of here’ competition and here’s what she had to say on the experience:

Having heard great things from fellow colleagues about the ‘I’m a Scientist, get me out of here’ competition I decided to submit myself for questioning by the students around the country on all kinds of science. With my research summed up in one sentence I waited for the response from ‘I’m a scientist’ with anticipation. I got the email back and I was in! Now for the tough part…

‘I’m a Scientist, get me out of here’ is a nationwide public outreach event sponsored by the Wellcome Trust where school children get to interact with scientists in a diverse range of topics. They do this through profiles that scientists create (mine’s here) as well as through questions and live chats. Kids then vote for their favourite scientist and these get knocked out over the course of the second week of the competition, with the winner gaining £500 to put towards outreach.

I was allocated a general zone, rather than a themed zone such as the colour or electromagnetic zone, called the Ytterbium zone. This meant I was not with scientists in my own field but was pitted against a linguist, physicist, microbiologist and radioactive waste disposer!

The first week of the competition was full of questions and live chats and they were definitely interesting! Each live chat with a school class is open to all the scientists to take part, which is great as the questions come in thick and fast. I had some great chats with students and some really insightful and probing questions such as asking about the virulence of different parasites and different transmission methods. A few students asked interesting questions about potential science careers and the teachers even got involved in the chats too! Although the occasional chat was affected by some spamming students the majority proved to be a hugely enjoyable experience for myself and the students.

Outside of the live chats students are able to ask questions and this fed the scientists with a steady stream of questions to constantly keep us occupied. Some questions I was asked personally (What’s your favourite horse breed?) but the majority were asked to all the scientists (Do you like rock?!). I could answer questions anytime and students could write back asking further questions or challenging what you’d put. Once the first week was over it was then time for the knock out rounds!

Thankfully we didn’t have a live chat whilst the first set of evictions was announced on the Tuesday of week 2 so we nervously awaited the results online. I wasn’t the first out so I lived to fight another day, answering questions and joining in on more live chats. The week then ended with the microbiologist crowned as the winner of my zone but I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 weeks of I’m a scientist. The questions were great, the ‘I’m a scientist’ staff were excellent during the chats and I’d recommend the experience to anyone!

The next event is running in November so if you’re interested in outreach and communicating any aspect of science I’d definitely recommend you apply!

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