✨ British Science Week 2024 Report

I'm a Scientist graphic of a student with their hand raised with a speech bubble and the scientist with a speech bubble containing three dots.

Our British Science Week 2024 event has come to a close, and what a week it was! Over 5 days, 68 schools engaged in 191 Chats, exchanging an impressive 63,023 lines of Chat. With so much going on, it’s hard to narrow down the highlights, but we’ve rounded up some of the mods’ favourite moments to share with you.

The diversity of participants made the week special. 246 scientists took part, each with unique careers and stories.

Careers were a hot topic among students, from those with clear goals to others seeking tips on where to start.

It’s encouraging to see such variation in responses – take a look at the range of jobs shared with Great Wakering Primary Academy below, and insights Michael C shared with Ursuline High School.

These Chats showed that a career path isn’t a straight line, with no one ‘right’ way to be a scientist.

“It’s super important – even the questions that seem a little intrusive into our lives are them trying to work out whether this job matches what they want their lives to look like.”

– Amy, Scientist, 2024

whitfieldm23 Did you have other jobs before you were a scientist?
Tanya @whitfieldm23: I spent 3 years as a high school maths teacher
Rachel A @whitfieldm23: I worked in a shop when I was a student, but other wise went straight into a lab after finishing uni
Sarah @whitfieldm23: Yes, when I've been between contracts or when I was studying, I've worked in a hospital pharmacy department, an engineering company, pubs and in shops
Kim NG yes lots : I worked in a bank and was a dancer in London when i was younger
septred @Michael C: wow so if i was a scientist would i have to do a degree?
Michael C @septred: There are other ways into the field - the best chemist I ever knew didn't do too well on their A levels so did a foundation course, before uni. Our groups newest technician got the job through the apprenticeship scheme, and my phD student was in a band for about five years before going into science!
septired @Michael C: so luck is real!!!
Michael C @septred: Luck is always a factor (e.g., I applied for my job at just the right time!) but all three of those people put in the hard work and were passionate - those two things will take you far
septired @Michael C: Thank you i might become a scientist now any tips?
Michael C @septired: Picking the field you are most interested in is key, as during coursework, tests and the boring parts that interest can carry you through. Also, reach out to lecturers, teachers and scientists that you like or admire, as this is how I got a summer placement and how I find summer students - people want to support future scientists!"
septired @Michael C: WOW ok i really like my teacher now so i might ask her a question (she really loves science) but i am looking forward to my future and thank you for the advise

All week, Chats were full of inspiring conversations that captivated students, scientists, and mods alike! Refreshing (and relatable!) personal journeys, triumphs, and difficulties were shared, showing us that everyone faces challenges sometimes.

We loved these moments alongside advice and encouragement that Mod Rebecca spotted, in Chats with Our Lady’s RC High School and Park Primary School:

beenthat @all do you ever struggle with anything
Rachel A @been1hat: Yes, I can struggle with Maths and sometimes working out why something isnt working. I find having friends that will help is a bonus!
Ashleigh @been1hat: We all struggle with things at time - sometimes it can take us a little while to fully understand something, but that's okay. I think it's always helpful to remember that we all have our strengths and it's okay to ask for help with things we find a bit harder
johnsona241 Has anyone every had dyslexia or had barriers when studying?
evelynbrunsdon @johnsona241: i used to struggle with this around my GCSE's and A-levels, luckily my school was very accommodating though and with a heavy reliance on spellcheck it didn't affect me too much going through university
Eloise @johnsona241: 1 personally do not have dyslexia but my partner does and he used to get different coloured paper and people to read out work for him and also write if he needed it! He just completed a masters degree - there is so much support available now so you should not see this as a barrier.

I always see through I’m a Scientist that learning goes both ways. It’s lovely to see enthusiastic students bringing thought-provoking ideas, especially when it leads to extra research to continue after a Chat.

A great example came from a St Bridget’s Primary School student, who worked with a scientist to tackle a problem:

seek499ash @Jenny Did you know that in South America and Portugal alot of Armadillo's are knocking down all the bee hives, Do you know any simple ideas to help stop that?
Jenny @seek499ash: Really?! That's fascinating! Could they maybe put a trench around the beehives? Or have another animal on the same land that armadillos don't like? Are they trying to get the honey?
seek499ash @Jenny: Yeah they could! Or maybe put a fence so the Armadillo's cant get through! But no the Amadillo's dont eat the honey because they usually eat ants but im not to sure why they do that that's something ill try find out! Thanks for your reply
Jenny @seek499ash: You're welcome - I'll have a look at it too - you've got me interested in this now!
seek499ash @Jenny: Hahaha! So will I, im super curious on why they do that to the poor bees 🐝!

Some questions really challenged the scientists, sparking lively discussions.

Many philosophical ideas seemed to come from curious younger minds – it’s great to see teachers encouraging and sharing these kinds of questions.

Malmesbury students and scientist Rachel pondered the mysteries of the cosmos, proving that we can learn plenty by asking questions and it’s ok to not know all the answers.

“Yet another fantastic chat.
As always, scientists, thank you for your time, P7s, you have done an amazing job with your questions this afternoon.
Best ever.”

– Teacher, 2024

Just look at this fun challenge from St Dominic’s School!

davisa24 @Rachel How do we know the earth is round?
Rachel @davisa24: We have seen the earth from space, so we can see it is round! But we know that because of how gravity works, everything in space is likely to be round!
davisa24 @Rachel: So are stars round?
Rachel @davisa24: Yes! Just like our sun, which is our most famous star, stars out in the distant galaxy are round :)
davisa24 @Rachel: Do you think there is another universe somewhere?
Rachel @davisa24: I'm not sure about another universe, but I definitely think there's more galaxies than we could ever imagine!
tullettk20 can you define science in one sentence please - fun question
dinaleighsimons @tullettk20: The pursuit of finding answers to unsolved questions!
Ryan @tullettk20: A never ending search for answers to questions which help us understand the world and everything in it. A brilliant question, by the way!
Alison @tullettk20: organised experimentation with an element of danger
celinewittke @tullettk20: Working on questions and topics that fascinate you which leads to more answers but also more questions!

Some big ideas need more thinking time than in a fast-paced Chat… fortunately, students followed up topics that sparked their interest, submitting over 1000 extra questions through the Ask page!

They were curious about everything, from scientists’ pets to drug development and really big-picture questions, like what even IS science anyway? I’d recommend browsing the comments on that last one – so many great insights being shared!

A huge thank you to everyone who made our British Science Week so enjoyable. To the scientists for making time to share their knowledge, the IAS team behind the scenes, and of course the ever-enthusiastic students and their teachers.

We’re delighted to note that 81% of participants were from priority schools. It’s been great to see so many students engaging, exploring what interests them, and learning there’s a place for them in science. I hope everyone enjoyed the week as much as us, but remember, celebrating science isn’t just for one week, and we’re excited about what’s to come throughout the year!

Posted on March 21, 2024 by modjamie in News. Tagged , , . Comments Off on ✨ British Science Week 2024 Report