Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who took part in the live chats, asked questions on the “I’m a Scientist” Ireland website and voted for their favourite scientist.
I had an amazing experience and that was down to the enthusiasm shown by you all for Science, both weird and wonderful! Thank you also, to your teachers for organising the event in your schools, and to the “I’m a Scientist” organisers for hosting a great event across the whole island of Ireland.
A huge shout out to the other Scientists who took part in the Health Zone, Jean, Tim and Kevin, who I learned so much from and were great fun to chat with over the two weeks. Between the efforts of all the Health Zone Scientists, we were able to give you almost three hundred answers to your written questions, and many more during the live chats, so I hope you were able to take something useful from your experience too.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for “I’m a Scientist” and I have to say I was a bit nervous before the first live chat. But once the questions started flooding in, I didn’t have time for nerves and just got busy answering.
It became apparent pretty quickly that the students were fascinated by our High Throughput Screening robot Janus, who took on a life of her own for two weeks. In that very first chat I was asked had I ever been attacked by Janus (by twxxtriona) and whether I was in love with her (princessastronaut). I am glad to report that, despite working with Janus for four years, I remain in one piece and am still happily married (to a female human). The theme continued with questions about her height and weight (never ask a lady her weight), whether she had eyes or could talk (no, but she can email) and, oddly, would she die if I had to leave her to go to the toilet…
I greatly enjoyed the written questions too, particularly as it’s not always possible to answer everything during a live chat, or give a question the time and research it deserves. For two weeks only then, I became an expert in food (eggs, Lilt and healthy sweets), anatomy (tongues, tonsils and belly buttons) and superheroes (Iron Man’s elements and Spiderman’s not-so-super powers). Other questions were more philosophical, but no less interesting for that. Subjects ranged from prophetic dreams (by ch9910) to standards of beauty (ellengd1039) to whether we were all just figments of mazzy’s imagination. These are not the types of questions we get asked every day, so it was great to be able to spend some time in the evenings reading and learning about these topics.
I was over the moon (not literally, unlike some of the guys over in the Space Zone) when I heard I had won and have been busy since talking to my Outreach colleagues here in NUI Galway about my idea for using the prizemoney. Next year I plan on running a schools video competition, where secondary school students will get to make a short video explaining a science topic in a fun way for other students. The winning students will then receive a prize, either some money or some equipment, to be used to teach science in their school.
These topics might include something like gravity or health or evolution, or we might just use some of the most interesting question you have asked during the two weeks, so you could be asked to make a short video about “Why we Sneeze” or “What it’s like to be a Scientist”! Once we have figured out exactly what we are looking for we will be in touch with your teachers. I’m really looking forward to running this next year and hopefully hearing back from lots of you budding Scientists.
Thanks again. Enda