Posted on 21 March 2017
Sandra was one of five scientists who were stationed in the Francium Zone, the general science zone, which was funded by Wellcome. Over the course of two weeks, school students tested the scientists’ knowledge by asking science questions and taking part in live chats.
During the second week, in true X-Factor style, the students were allowed to evict scientists daily with the remaining scientist in each zone winning a £500 prize.
Sandra said “I signed up to take part in this competition in November after receiving an email from ScienceGrrl.
“During the competition I was asked lots of great questions, such as “Why do we dream?”, “If you could kill all bad bacteria, would it stop ageing?”, “How does a placebo work?” and “Is time travel possible?”. A lot of the physics questions left me stumped but there was great interaction between the scientists in my zone so the students’ questions could always be answered.
“The students weren’t just interested in science, asking social, ethical and philosophical questions. I tried to encourage them to think on their feet, be the change they want to see in the world and make smart choices. Going forward, I encourage them to ask questions and not to be satisfied with the answers if they don’t make sense; you’re not going to learn if you don’t ask.
“If any scientists are thinking about taking part, my advice would be to create a thorough profile, include photos and it is easier to relate to the students if you are light hearted, funny and honest. You are given lots of helpful advice and support from the moderators and there is a staffroom chat but be prepared for a very busy two weeks; I took part in 15 half hour chats plus a couple of hours a day answering questions and researching topics.
“Overall, taking part in this competition was a fun and rewarding experience. My colleagues were very supportive and I wouldn’t hesitate to take part again in the future.
The competition ran between 6th – 17th March with 130 schools interacting with 40 scientists across eight different zones. The next competition will take place between 12th – 23rd June 2017.