📝 Scientist Briefing Notes

These notes will help you get the most out of your experience of I’m a Scientist.
Any questions, or issues not covered, please email support@imascientist.ie

Top tips

Fit the activity around your schedule

We only ask for a minimum commitment of one hour a week, for this outreach activity. Complete your profile, take part in Chats whenever you can and answer follow-up questions when it suits you. It can also be useful to get your colleagues and boss onboard as most Chats will be during working hours.

Be friendly and yourself

Be yourself in your answers. You don’t have to pretend to like Lizzo/Charli D’Amelio/MrBeast for young people to relate to you – being genuine is more important. Try to be open and personable from the start. You will get a range of questions – from the theme of the Chat to your favourite cereal. Some questions may be outside of your area of expertise. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’; this will help students see that scientists aren’t all knowing-geniuses.

This is not a seminar for the scientists of the future

There will be a wide variety of students taking part, meaning a wide variety of ages and abilities. Some will be ‘gifted and talented’ students, some will be lower ability classes, or have additional educational needs. The point of the activity is to provide a space that engages all students, not just the ones who might go on to study STEM subjects at university. Keep your language simple and avoid using technical words.

Don’t “identity”; “find”. Don’t “utilise”; “use”. Don’t “investigate”; “look at”.


The I’m a Scientist activity connects school students with STEM professionals to help them see STEM as ‘for them’ and break down stereotypes of what a scientist is ‘supposed’ to be.

It’s all online and text-only (no audio or video). All you need is a web browser.

There are four elements to the activity: your profile, Chats, follow-up questions and Voting.

Fill out your profile when you receive your login details. You’ll be invited to real time Chats, typically during school hours, i.e. 9am to 4.30pm. Follow-up questions asked to you by students can be answered at any time. We count votes once a half-term and award the winner €500.


Here, you’ll find your upcoming Chats, unanswered Chat invites and the questions you’ve received from students. 

You are in control of your participation. Try to log in and visit your dashboard once a week to stay in touch with questions and Chat invites.


Your profile gives students the opportunity to learn a bit about you ahead of your Chat. They’ll often come up with questions for you based on what’s in your profile. It includes pictures, information about you and your work, some interview style questions and a small section on work history. 

It’s important that you start your profile as soon as possible. Click to edit your profile on your dashboard. When editing remember to save regularly by clicking Update Profile at the bottom of the page.

Please do not add links to personal social media accounts (e.g. Twitter handles, Instagram). This helps keep the school students’ interactions with you during the activity in a fully moderated space, i.e. this website.

Profile tips:

  • Complete all sections: It all helps students relate to you. 
  • Add photos: Pictures are a great way to give all students an idea of who you are. Make sure you have permission to share them. 
  • Keep it short and simple: Avoid jargon and keep your sentences short and easy to read. The age range of students visiting your profile will be between 9 and 18.

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Once we’ve created your account, you’ll begin to receive Chat invites. Teachers will choose a theme for their students’ activity and you’ll be invited to join a Chat if the theme for a class’s activity matches one of the themes listed on your profile.

You selected your themes when you signed up, and we may have assigned you some additional related themes. If you would like to update your themes, please email: support@imascientist.ie

Chats are fast-paced and text-only, typically last 30 minutes and are the most popular part of the activity. They are often fun, lively and energetic. They provide an immediate connection between you and the students.

Teachers tell us that due to the text-only nature of the Chats, quieter students are more active than they would be in a face-to-face interaction, providing an interesting change to class dynamics.

Accepting Chat invites

Check your dashboard regularly to see Chat invites.

Select the ✔️ to accept a booking and let the students and teacher know that you’re attending.

Select the ❌ to reject a booking you can’t attend. If you become available later you can always change your mind.

There is a limit to the number of Chats you can accept at any one time. Once you’ve taken part in some, you can accept more again.

Unfortunately, sometimes a teacher has to cancel a Chat. It will disappear from your ‘Accepted Chat bookings’ view. If you added this Chat to your own calendar, remember to remove it manually.

Only accept one chat per time slot.

Adjusting your availability

You’re in control of when you take part. You’ll only be sent Chat invites for dates that you have told us you are available. 

Availability calendar: Coming soon.

Use the calendar to block off days that you know you will be unavailable.

Change your availability: Coming soon.

Click + to increase the number of Chats you can accept per week by one, Click – to reduce your availability.

Taking part in Chats

Navigating the Chat

When it’s time for your Chat, log into imascientist.ie and click the Chat icon. The Chat will open 5 minutes before it is due to start. If you have any issues accessing a Chat, call us ASAP on +44 01225 667 922.

There will always be a member of our moderation team present to ensure Chats run smoothly.

This is an example of a Chat:

Once you’re in the Chat you can see who is online on the left. At the top you’ll see the time left until the Chat closes. 

In the top-right hand corner is ‘Show Messages’ which you can click to see anything you’ve been tagged in. The students are encouraged to use the tagging system, but some of them may ask questions by typing out your name, and these will only appear on the main Chat page and not in your ‘Show Messages’.

Hit ‘Reply’ on a message to tag the student in your response. Look out for the number indicator next to students’ names to see how many replies the student has had. If you notice a student with a relatively low number compared to others in the class, try to answer their questions.

The speech bubble next to a message will allow you to see the conversation thread.

Sometimes, if the Chat is moving fast and there are a lot of unanswered questions, the moderator will hit pause. This will prevent the students from sending new messages until you and the other scientists have caught up.

To use emojis in the Chat, simultaneously press the Windows logo key and . (period) if you’re on a Windows operating system or press Command, Control and Space on a Mac. You can also go to Edit then Emoji & Symbols on a Mac.

Conversation tips

The text-based nature of Chats gives students the opportunity to ask whatever question is on their mind. Topics will range from the Chat theme, to your life as a scientist but also around your personal life. 

It’s likely that you’ll get some of the same questions being asked in different Chats. Remember that each Chat is with a different group of students who haven’t asked that question before. Not all students will have read your profile, either, so don’t expect them to remember what you’ve said about your work previously. 

If you get asked a question in a Chat that you don’t know the answer to, then please say “I don’t know”! It’s useful for the students to see that scientists don’t know everything and that you don’t have to be ‘super smart’ to get a job in STEM.

In general, try to:

  • Keep it simple: don’t use advanced technical language, don’t worry about spelling mistakes and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Chat.
  • Reply at the students’ level. You won’t know the age or grades of the students in the Chat, but you’ll be able to tell how much they do (and don’t) understand about your work by the way they ask questions and respond to your answers. Try to match their level of understanding. 
  • Answer a question on the level it was asked. You won’t know the ages of the students, but you’ll usually be able to ascertain their current understanding of science through their questions and responses to your answers. 
  • Go with the flow: Be aware that young people’s turn of phrase and use of language is different. Try to understand what they’re asking and don’t take offence at blunt questions. Some questions will be personal but answer them as best you can – it will allow students to connect with you.

Questions such as “Do you play video games?” may seem off-topic to you but they are actually important in showing students that scientists are ‘normal’ people with similar interests. It enables a rapport to be built.

You may be asked questions about money. The majority of students who you will be in contact with don’t know scientists in their surrounding community. Therefore, questions like “How much money do you make?” are common and important to them. They provide them with valuable career insight, so try to answer it if you feel comfortable. You can always give a ballpark figure.

Our moderators make sure no question is offensive or rude but you will come across personal questions. For example, students may ask about your salary. Please respond to these in any way that you feel comfortable. Those questions provide students valuable insight into your career.

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Follow-up questions

Answer questions by logging in and going to My Unanswered Questions on your dashboard.

Some questions will be asked to all the scientists relevant to the theme, others may be specifically for you.

Moderation of questions: Our policy

All follow-up questions sent in the Ask section are moderated by our team before they are sent to you. The moderators aim to strike a balance between making your lives easier as participants, and giving students the chance to ask the questions they want answered.

There will be some questions that are similar but the moderators do try to remove duplicates.

Any rude or offensive questions will be removed but challenging questions will be allowed.

Remember most students taking part are aged between 9 and 18 and will be from a range of backgrounds and schools.

If there are questions you’re not sure about answering, please contact us.

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Winners of I’m a Scientist receive €500 to put towards their own science engagement project. Students vote for the scientist they think should win the €500.

How voting works

Students who’ve had a Chat within a theme can vote for any of the scientists within that theme. 

There is no pressure for you to push for votes and no negative consequences for not winning, so you can take the vote part of the activity as seriously as you like. We never publish the number of votes per scientist.

For students, considering who to vote for is an important part of the activity. It gives them a reason to think critically about the work scientists do and deepens their involvement in the activity. Please keep this in mind if they ask ‘Why should we vote for you?’

Spending the prize money

The prize money can be used for anything involving people outside of science. Some examples could be school visits, science fair exhibits, videos or podcasts, blogs, or arranging class visits to your lab or office.

You can see what past winners did here ❯

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Contact us

Please let us know if you’re having any issues. You can email us at support@imascientist.ie.

You can also connect with us on LinkedIn or BlueSky

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The small print

By accepting your invitation to I’m a Scientist you are agreeing to these terms and conditions ❯

We think you’ll agree with them, but it’s best to be sure, so please have a read.

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