Help! I’m a scientist, get me out of here!

Phd researcher Julia Griffen, from the Department of Chemistry, is currently being quizzed on all things science by school children from across the country.

Julia is taking part in ‘I’m a scientist 2011’ – an award-winning science enrichment and engagement activity in which school students talk to real scientists online for two weeks.

The event is an X Factor-style competition for scientists, where the students are the judges. For two weeks students read about the scientists’ work, ask them questions and engage in live text chats with them. The students vote for the scientist they want to win the event.

The scientists with the fewest votes are evicted until only one is left in each subject zone to be crowned the winner.

Julia Griffen gears up to take on questions from budding young scientists.

Julia Griffen gears up to take on questions from budding young scientists.

Julia said: “Being involved in ‘I’m a scientist’ is really good fun, it’s a great way of communicating research aims and scientific ideas to school children.

“The students involved seem to be enjoying themselves which is really rewarding. Hot topics seem to range from space and quantum physics, to animal instincts and behaviour, and new medicines and drug efficacy.”

Asked whether she feels confident, as voting begins on Monday, Julia said: “I’ve had some positive feedback from the students, but my competition is tough! A scientist working for NASA is able to answer a lot of the space questions!

“The best question I have received was ‘what is the best hope for an alternative energy source to provide power in the future?’, and the hardest asked was ‘is science is able to explain absolutely everything?

“The event is giving me a great experience as a scientist. It’s a learning curve to condense my work to make it understandable to a young audience. I have also learnt a lot from the students and the other scientists, especially about space and physics.”

Julia will be pitched against the other scientists taking part in the event when voting begins next week. We wish her all the very best of luck in the competition stage of the event.

I’m a scientist is funded by a Society Award from the Wellcome Trust, with additional support from the National Science Learning Centres and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

The event is supported by carefully developed and tested teaching resources that further students’ skills and deepen their understanding.

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