Imagine a talent show where contestants get voted off dependant on their skills in their area of choice. Then imagine that this talent show is populated by scientists with school students voting them off based on the scientist’s ability to communicate their research well. This is the basis of the EGU’s new educational (for both students and scientists!) initiative to launch in June 2014.
The EGU have entered into a collaboration with Gallomanor, a UK company that runs the events I’m a Scientist (Get me out of here) and I’m an Engineer (Get me out of here). The EGU are now funding a European-wide sister project called I’m a Geoscientist (Get me out of here) where we provide our scientist members with the opportunity to go head to head with four other geoscientists to win €500 for a future public engagement project. Sound good?
The event takes the form of an online chat forum that uses an innovative online platform designed especially for the purpose of this event. School students log on and post questions to the scientists taking part, ranging from questions about their research to their favourite music. The scientists then log on and answer those questions. Based on their answers, students get to vote out scientists until there is one left – the best scientific communicator – who wins €500 for a new public-engagement project of their choice.
A public engagement activity could involve: buying equipment to allow a research oceanography vessel to communicate with school students during expeditions, funding an open day for communities living in a disaster area to find out about the natural hazards research and get advice, giving the money to a school in Uganda to pay for science kits and a projector to watch science films on or buying a quadcopter to film inside the rim of a volcano and help local school children understand their local natural environment. It’s up to you!
The primary objective of the event is to change students’ attitudes to the geosciences and make them feel it’s something they can relate to and discuss in a rapidly changing world. Students have fun, but also get beyond stereotypes, learn about how science relates to real life, develop their thinking and discussion skills and make connections with real scientists.
For scientists, this is a unique opportunity to get involved with some public engagement from the comfort of your own home or lab computer, in your own time. You can build up your skills in talking about your research to varied audiences, tick the box for public engagement in your funding proposals, gain an understanding of how the public relate to your research and, importantly, help inspire the next generation about the geosciences.
So, by now you must be asking how you can get involved to take part in this amazing opportunity! To apply to take part in the event just go to http://imageoscientist.eu and fill in the simple online form for scientists. Applications are open to all EGU members (if you are not a member you can register on the EGU website) from across Europe and close on the 17th March 2014. Once applications close, we will ask the registered school classes to judge the scientist applications and chose the final 5 scientists who will get to take part in the final event. Successful scientists will be notified by the 7th April and the event will take place over two weeks from the 16th to 27th June.
To take part you need to be able to devote around an hour a day (it doesn’t matter when, but if you can devote more time that is always better) for those two weeks to answer the questions posed by the students – and of course you will have to have reliable internet access. The entire event will be conducted in English, so you will also need to be able to confidently understand and communicate in English.
By Jane Robb, EGU Educational Fellow