Hey maria – remember that the money isn’t going to be used for scientific research (which you’re right, is v expensive) but is going to be used for science communication and £500 is a lot for sci comm! I think all of us scientists in this group will make really good use of the money and do something to publicise our science.
My idea is to make a jacket which will detect cosmic rays. This will require the full £500 to buy all the equipment necessary. I hope that it would be a fun way to teach you how to detect cosmic rays!
The prize money would not make a huge difference to my research as it does cost a lot of money (up to ~£500 per hour for MRI scanner use for example). However it would make a difference to my ability to participate in activities like this, where scientists talk to students and the public at large and learn from each other. My plan is to use the money to pay for a special experiment, designed by school students, and using their teacher as a “guinea pig”. You can read more on my profile.
The prize might also convince my colleagues (including my bosses) that I am good at this sort of thing, and that I can help tell people outside the university about what we do. I’d like that because I am really enjoying it.
Finally I want to win, because I put a lot of work into I’m A Scientist, and although the other scientists are all great I have started to feel a bit competitive! Have a look at some of the other answers, and think about who you think does the best job of explaining things. But then, I think you should decide for yourself, because we all want the prize to go to the one who’s done the best job in the eyes of the students.
It’s always nice to win in any competition (but in this case I think that all of us feel that the prize was to be selected to take part!).
But you are right that the money would not pay for very much science. Normally our projects cost about £500,000 to pay someone to do 3 years work (that covers salary plus research and equipment costs).
But the £500 prize is to be spent on a science communication project and it is possible to do something useful with that kind of money. My plan is to make a film about what science is really like. You can see the trailer here. 😉