Today was a tough day on I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here – three live chats almost back to back, followed by the first evictions. And believe me – even though I live to fight another day, the evictions were traumatic! But more of that below. At the end of a long day, I mainly wanted to pull together a few notes on the event as it stands at the moment.
First, there have been some great blogs on I’m A Scientist. You should definitely check out Stephen Curry’s Science and the Importance of Cheese – especially the video (which I will include at the end of this post – wonderful viewing!). Then there’s Mark Fogg’s Getting IAS Therapy? – a wonderfully energetic blog about how energizing taking part in I’m A Scientist is.
I’m sure there are other blogs out there – feel free to add links below.
Next, there’s a great quote from Larry Bock – Executive Director of the USA Science and Engineering Festival (the first national science festival to be held in the US!). In a piece from the University of Michigan (my place), Larry calls I‘m A Scientist
“One of those brilliant British ideas that needs to come to the U.S. Like the X-Factor, The Office, and, yes, the Beatles, we need a British invasion of ‘I’m a Scientist'”
Hopefully this is an idea that will catch on, and we’ll see a repeat run over here one day!
Then there were today’s live chats.
These are unique events – up to 30+ teenagers firing questions off to a handful of scientists in real-time, at a rate of one every few seconds. It’s one of those exhilarating intellectual and physical bare-knuckle rides where you just have to hang on for dear life’s sake, typing and responding as fast as possible until your brain goes numb or your fingers drop off!
When you have an engaged group of kids, the experience is incredible – mental stimulation so intense it’s probably illegal! But the experience is also a good learning one. Today, the Silicon zone had a live chat with a small number of kids from a community special school. We didn’t know where the students were coming from at first, and so were caught off guard, and had to recalibrate rather rapidly how we responded to them. The questions were… unusual, to say the least. But once I began to get the measure of things, I felt humbled to have the privilege of talking with students that could so easily be left out of a “science engagement” event. So often it’s easy to forget that science is relevant to everyone, not just the bright and the privileged. So thanks for reminding me folks at I’m A Scientist, and the students from this morning’s chat.
And finally, there was today’s eviction.
I’d been prepared to be voted out myself (although I would have sorely regretted leaving the competition). But I hadn’t been prepared for the shock of seeing one of my fellow scientists go. This hit me more than I expected – Paula Gilfillain was a great contributor in the Silicon Zone, and was actively involved in a live chat when the news of her conviction came through. It was a real shame to see her go. But sadly that’s the nature of the beast.
The reality is though that, as much as we scientists are finding the whole thing a blast, it’s the students that are the important ones here. And while we might find the evictions hard, they do give the whole event an edge that keeps the students engaged, and the scientists sharp!
I suspect the following evictions will be easier to handle – the first is always the worst. Will I be around until the end? I certainly hope so. But even if I get trounced by one of my remaining competitors, at least I know that the students will have had a great time, and the winning scientist will be worthy of the prize…
Well, almost worthy 🙂
Evictions will be posted every day this week on the I’m A Scientist website around 3:30 PM British Summer Time
And here for your entertainment, is Stephen Curry’s rather excellent “What Science Is Really Like” movie – enjoy 🙂