It’s been a while!
The last time I posted on MicroMicrobe was over six months ago - I can’t believe how quick time flies!
I’ve recently been getting more involved in STEM communication, and last week I took part in a fantastic online science outreach event called “I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here" -which takes place three times a year. Scientists interact with students online through answering questions and live chats in a Facebook messenger style. The students can vote for their favourite scientist to win £500 to spend on science communication.
There were 17 zones in total, each with their own theme; I was in the ‘Neodymium Zone’, a general science zone. It was a highly rewarding 2 weeks, where I got to talk to 300 11-18 year olds, promoting microbiology and women in science. And to top it off, I won!
The live chats were the best part – where 20+ students would bombard you with questions over a 30 minute time slot. The students probably got the most out of these sessions, asking questions that were more intuitive and less inhibitive than those outside the chat. The younger the students, the more questions they asked – and the funnier some of them were. On the other hand, Year 12s were very shy and were more interested in the routes we had taken to get where we are today. It was great to get across you don’t need a specialised degree to become a scientist, and going to University is not the only route you can take – apprenticeships and studying for a degree whilst working are also alternative ways to get into scientific research and development.
Over the 2 weeks I answered 312 questions, many of which enabled me to dispel misconceptions about microbes and scientists. I was very glad to talk about ‘good’ bacteria, antibiotic resistance and women in science. One student even thought she couldn’t be a doctor because “most are men”, and sadly there must be more out there thinking the same.
I hope I managed to get students enthused about the wonderful world of microbes. It was great to promote working in industry as majority of scientists in all zones were all working in academia as PhD students, post docs or professors, so I was able to give the students a completely different perspective of working in product development.
All in all it was a rewarding, exciting couple of weeks which I totally recommend (you can apply for future events here)! I’ve got a few ideas on how I plan to spend the prize money, one being to publish an eBook on microbiology aimed at KS3 students (aged 11-14).