Readers of this blog will know that I’ve just taken part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here! What you probably don’t know is that I won the Boron Zone! YAY! For my efforts I will receive $1000 to spend on communicating science. Double YAY!
Now, that the questions are answered and the chat sessions are over, I thought I’d post a few reflections on the competition. I’ve already touched on some of the questions that kept coming up here and here, so I won’t go into too much detail on that front.
Overall, I thought it was a fantastic way to connect with school students. The kids got a chance to interact with working scientists, while the scientists got to hone their communication skills and attempt to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Even if students do not go into science as a career, my hope is that they came away with a deeper appreciation for science and research.
I got the impression that this time around, I’m a Scientist was more popular and “bigger” than previous events. We were originally told to allow about two hours per day to work on it, but in the end considerably more time than that was needed, at least in the Boron Zone. We were pretty popular, possibly because we covered a big range of science: astronomy, quantum physics, geology, marine biology, and ecology. That’s not a complaint, it was fantastic to see the students’ enthusiasm!
From our chat sessions, it was clear that they came in to the program with a fixed idea of what a scientist is like: nerdy with poor social skills. Hopefully that old stereotype was put to rest! We all know that these days scientists are nerdy with reasonably good social skills. 😉
One of the interesting things to come out of our discussions with the students was that there are two things that kids love about science: experiments and blowing things up. This probably explains why Mythbusters is so popular! Conversely, theory seems to be universally disliked. Part of me understands this, since I find one of the fun things about science to be using observation and experiment to disprove or challenge theories.
Finally, a big thanks to the organisers, Kristin and James, who in the Boron Zone alone whittled over 2000 questions down to just under 350, moderated 23 live chats – some of them a little unruly at times – and were very supportive and responsive to all of us. Great job guys! 🙂