Firstly, I would like to thank all of the students who took part in I’m a Scientist. I was very impressed with the insight of the questions that you all asked, and I’m sure that all of my fellow competitors agree. You really made us think about the nature of our work and why it is necessary – something which is very important for all scientists at any stage of their career. Your questions ranged from which drug we thought was the most useful (my thoughts: caffeine), to what we thought the world would look like in 2050 (unless we stop global warming, hot!), via who our favourite scientist was (Paul Dirac).
In return, I hope that we have done a few things for you. Firstly, and most importantly, I hope that you have been able to see that we are not special. In particular, I hope that you have learnt that anyone can be a scientist, regardless of sex, gender, ethnicity, or any other characteristic you can think of. All it needs is an interest in the world around us, as well as the ability to persevere when things aren’t quite going your way.
Second, I hope that we have been able to show you that chemistry is about so much more than what you’ve learnt in schools. You’ve seen Sebastian, working in flow chemistry, to gain better control of chemical reactions. You’ve seen Jennifer, who helps scientists and government work together to make the changes that we need as a society. You’ve seen Fiona and her work synthesising new chemical tools. You’ve seen Eleanor, who creates vaccines. You’ve seen Paddy, combining big data and chemistry. You’ve also seen me – who sits at a desk writing code to simulate drugs – so we don’t have to waste time and money making them.
So – what am I going to do with the prize money? Well, for those of you who haven’t seen, along with other young scientists, I have created a virtual chemistry lab. With our virtual lab, you can experiment as to how changes in physical conditions affects the microscopic behaviour of atoms. And we’ve done a good job so far! It’s available for download onto Windows and Mac computers, and also we have a version on the app store for iPhone/iPad. We’ve been trying to get an android version going, but this has been difficult seeing as none of us own anything we can test on. So some of the money from this event will go towards buying an android tablet for this.
We’re also hoping to create a virtual reality version of the app – and now we can turn this hope into reality, because we will be putting the rest of this money towards purchasing hardware for us to be able to do this – so thank you very much.
Any remaining funds will go towards enabling us to travel over the country to various events to showcase our application. So – if your school is interested, I’m sure the team at I’m a Scientist can put your teachers in touch with our team, and we can organise an event for you. So get asking!
So – as I reflect on my time on I’m a Scientist, I think about how my approach to my work will change. I will remember that there is nothing wrong with not knowing something – that’s how we learn. I will remember that science is about asking questions – and then more questions about the answers. And I will remember that anyone can be a scientist. And I hope you do too.
Scientists! If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply