I’d like to start of by saying how grateful I am for the incredible opportunity: I’m a Scientist UK is definitely the most fun I’ve had in my lab coat. The whole process is flawless- with great chatroom moderators, clever site design and excited, committed, inquisitive school students. It took the first few minutes of my first live chat to turn #IASUK from something I didn’t understand to something that meant more to me than anything going on in my life!
I’m a Scientist took over my life for two weeks: I couldn’t do an experiment without thinking I’d miss a question (by the second day I started at 05:30), I couldn’t meet anyone in the morning (schools come ‘online’ at 09:00), I delayed meeting my supervisor, rejected lunch with my family and have no idea what was discussed during our weekly group meeting. The second week was made worse by the looming threat of 15:00 evictions, which managed to rouse more fear than presenting at any international academic conference.
The questions were incredible, totally unpredictable and the scope was well beyond that going on academic circles- by the final I’d tried to prepare a few ‘go-to’ answers, “What is colour?”, “What happened during the big bang?”, “Will we ever cure cancer?..but I couldn’t predict a single one! After the 30 minute live chats my fingers were tingling so much I had to delay measuring polymers in the clean room. Everyone in my office understood when I had to take the final day off: the three hour final would require levels of concentration that rarely occurred in PhD land.
I cannot express in words how much I’d recommend this to any PhD student, science technician or any academic with time on their hands. It is certainly the most rewarding experience I’ve been part of. I’ve emailed all the schools I interacted with and asked to come and visit them next term! I think I’ve learnt more science since the 15th June than I have done during my postgraduate studies so far!! It’s made me question every part of my research, assess how realistic I am and be more creative in my experimental design. It’s made me so proud to be a physicist, work at Imperial College and be able to help these curious kids. I can only hope that they stay interested science and never stop searching for honest answers.