The money will give me the chance to stage a “scan your teacher” day, which I hope will really excite and interest a group of school students, and help them understand the work I do and why it’s interesting and important. You might think, “so what”. The reason the scientists are involved in I’m A Scientist is because we all think that telling young people about science is very important. One reason is because we really need a generation of people who understand science and evidence so they can help politicians make difficult decisions about science and technology in the future. The current generation of adults are not all comfortable with science – many of them just don’t get it. The current generation of scientists (like myself) are also not that good at talking to the public about science, and events like this help us to show what we’re really like, what our ideas are, and why they’re important. Finally, I guess we’re all hoping to inspire one or two people to take up science themselves (either as a job or a way of thinking about problems in the world). So from that point of view the prize money is less important than the event itself.
A couple of days ago I would have left it at that, but now having spent so much time on the project I realise that I am completely hooked, and I desperately want to win (or at least not to get evicted). I am not normally competitive like this. Partly this is because I can see how good the other scientists are, and I would love it if people thought I was in the same league.
Even if I don’t win, I am getting at least as much out of this as the students, as I am learning a lot about the big questions that people want answered, and about the issues that YOU think we should prioritize in our work.
The £500 that the winner receives has to be spent on a science communication project, not directly on scientific research. It is important because whoever gets it will be able to come up with a new way to make some aspect of science interesting or appealing to a wider audience.
I think all the scientists here agree that it is important to encourage people (not just school students!) to take an interest in science because it can have such a big impact on the world – and will certainly be important for helping us to tackle important problems – like finding treatments for malaria.
Do you mean the prize money? The prize money won’t effect our research because we are going to use the prize money for some sort of science communication. I am going to use mine to build a nice bit of kit that demonstrates how to detect cosmic rays. But we are communicating some area of our research that we think is interesting.