Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201
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I'm a Scientist 2010

Photo courtesy of 'I'm a Scientist'

'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here!' has found its very own kings (and queens) of the laboratory, as chosen by 5,000 school students from across the UK, and one of those, Mark Roberts, is in the Department of Biochemistry.

'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here!' is a science dialogue event where school students talk to real scientists online. It is in the form of an 'X Factor'-style competition between scientists, who compete for a prize of £500.

The event is great for young people because It gives them an insight into issues such as deciding what science to fund, and offers a taste for what it's like to work in cutting-edge science.

Photo courtesy of 'I'm a Scientist'

Photo courtesy of 'I'm a Scientist'

For two weeks in early Summer, a hundred scientists answered questions from school students and had online live chats with them. The students
voted for who they thought should win and, once the final votes were counted, Mark Roberts emerged at the winner of one of the categories or 'zones'.

The questions Mark was asked were very diverse, from ones about how many hours he works, to the music he likes, as well as general science questions such as 'why is the sky blue?' and 'will there ever be a cure for cancer?' Some were much easier to answer than others.

The most exciting part of the event was the live online chat - trying to keep up with all the questions the students are firing is no mean feat. The students really get to know the scientists and see that they are normal people and are not boring but are very passionate about what they do. And with all those questions, they learn that scientists don't know everything!

During the event, the schools also did a number of activities around the web including making a 'fakebook' profile for each of the scientists. Mark's had the status of "Mark is currently looking down a microscope", which gives a fair indication of his work in the lab!

Photo courtesy of 'I'm a Scientist'

Photo courtesy of 'I'm a Scientist'

Both students and teachers made glowing comments about the event. "This has been the best chemistry lesson ever," said one student; "I loved asking real scientists about their research and the way they went about things - it made me feel more comfortable about talking to them with confidence," said another. "The 'I'm a Scientist' event is one of the most exciting, interactive, cutting-edge activities that my pupils and I have taken part it. My pupils love being in contact with real scientists and finding out about their research," enthused one of the teachers.

For Mark, taking part in the event was enormous fun if slightly exhausting. It reminded him of how much cool science there is outside of the small world that he examines as a biochemist. He intends to use the prize money to run an event at the British Science Association's annual Science Festival next year.

The 'I'm a Scientist' event is funded by a Society Award from the Wellcome Trust, with additional support from the National Science Learning Centres and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.



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