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 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 school students with the opportunity to meet and interact with real scientists!
The event takes the form of an online chat forum using 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.
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. Giving students some real power (deciding where the prize money goes) also makes the event more real for them. The student who interacts the most with scientists and asks the most insightful questions will also win a €20 gift voucher.
To apply to take part in the event just go to http://imageoscientist.eu and fill in the simple online form for teachers. Applications are open to all teachers who have taken part in a GIFT event (at any time) and close on the 17th March 2014. Successful teachers will be notified by the 24th March and the event will take place over two weeks from the 16th to 27th June. You will need to use some class time before the event to prepare your students, but we have flexible lesson plans already prepared and the minimum class time you need is 1 hour.
To take part you need to be able to devote at least 2 hours (it doesn’t matter when, and the maximum you will need is 5 hours) for those two weeks to ready your students for interacting with the scientists and take part in some online discussion – and of course you will have to have reliable internet access. The entire event will be conducted in English, so you and your class will also need a basic understanding of and ability to write questions to scientists in English. Why not team up with your school’s English department and use the event as a language learning exercise as well? If you choose to do this, make sure that the teacher who has been involved with GIFT in the past is the one who formally registers.
By Jane Robb, EGU Educational Fellow