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 during the online chats
An online public engagement activity that gets all kinds of people working in science (researchers, technicians, managers, private sector, public sector… everyone!) talking to school students all over Ireland.
Scientists develop their communication skills, gain a fresh perspective on their work, and find out what young people think about science and the role of scientists.
The next activity runs 11–22 November during Science Week 2019, funded by SFI’s Discover Programme and Wellcome Trust.
In November 2019 there are zones for people related to the areas of:
- Drug discovery
- Energy and physics
- Food science
Plus places in a general zone suitable for anyone with a science background, whatever your role.
How it works
Everything happens online so it’s easy for you to be involved right from your desk or smartphone and at times that suit your schedule.
Scientists put up a profile on this site, answer students’ questions about science, their work, the universe and beyond. They engage directly with students in live text-based chats. Students vote for their favourite scientist to win €500 to spend on further public engagement.
When is the activity ?
What kind of questions do students ask?
All questions are moderated, to remove duplicate questions, as well as rude or offensive ones.
What are the live chats like?
Live chats last 30 minutes; they are text-based, fast paced and fun. We limit the chats to 3 a day, but usually there will be fewer. We don’t expect all scientists to attend every chat!
How do evictions work?
Starting on Tuesday of the second week, the scientist with the fewest votes will be evicted at 3pm each day, until one is left to be crowned the winner on the last Friday! Students get a new vote every day.
What’s the prize money for?
One scientist in every zone wins €500 to be spent on a science communication project: school visits, science fair exhibits, videos or podcasts, blogs, arranging class visits to your lab. Check out how past winners have spent their money.
How much time will it take?
Time commitment is flexible and the format is designed to so you can fit taking part into your normal schedule as much as possible. Most scientists say they spend around 1-2 hours a day on the site; maybe 1 hour on live chats and another hour answering students’ questions, which can be during the evening, outside of the work day, on the train home… Each run of the activity usually takes place over two weeks.
What’s all this about zones?
The activity is divided into zones with six scientists each. Some are general zones, named after a chemical element and featuring a mix of scientists from different areas, like the Helium Zone. Others are themed zones, such as the Space Zone.
Do I need any special software or equipment?
All that’s needed is a computer with internet access. The live chats are text-based (no video or audio needed) and run through this site.
Who can apply?
The activity shows students the wide variety of careers that science leads to, so is open to all kinds of scientists from academia (from PhD students to research associates to professors, and including technicians) and anyone from industry with a background in science. If you’re not sure you’re eligible, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I get selected?
Scientists write a short summary explaining their work to 13/14 year olds when they apply. Students and teachers rate these summaries, to guide who is selected for each zone. Read about the selection process.
Where do I apply?