1. Introducing the activity
What is I’m a Scientist?
Read the text below to your students to brief them about the activity.
It may help to display the website at the same time.
1.1 More ways to run I’m a Scientist
We understand that some schools may face issues in taking part in I’m a Scientist in the “usual” way.
I’m a Scientist is flexible. You don’t need any special software to take part, just a computer or tablet and an internet connection.
The activity can be run in a variety of ways, including from home. Find out about more ways of taking part in I’m a Scientist
1.2 Extra Open Chats
In addition to the live Chats you can book for your class, there will be Open Chats that students can take part in on their own.
Deepen students’ involvement and get families involved by sending information home.
- After school live Chats are held on Thursday evenings from 7pm to 8pm
- Winners are announced in an Open Chat from 12pm to 3pm on the final day of the Zone
- There may also be additional Open Chats – please see your Zone for more information
2. How to book a live Chat
Live Chats are consistently the most popular part of the activity– for students, for scientists, and even for teachers! Follow the instructions below to book one for your class.
2.1 Your dashboard
Log in to your Zone to access your dashboard.
2.2 Create a class
Before you can book a live Chat, you must create a class in your Zone.
Click CREATE CLASS from your dashboard.
You can see a list of all the classes you have created on the CREATE CLASS page. If you have taken part in I’m a Scientist before, you cannot carry classes over from previous Zones.
2.3 Book your live Chat
From your dashboard, click BOOK YOUR LIVE CHAT. This will take you to the booking page.
When making a booking, please ensure you have selected the correct class and Zone.
After clicking Confirm Booking, you will get a confirmation email with the next steps.
2.4 Give access to students
Before your Chat, you must give access to your students.
From your dashboard, click CREATE CLASS to see the list of classes you’ve created.
Then you can either:
- Give students the unique registration URL (web address) for their class. Students will be asked to register using an email address, and create a username.
- Print and handout the login cards for your class. This is a list of automatically generated usernames and passwords, giving students immediate access. No email address is required, but students can provide one if they wish.
Students must have a username otherwise they will not be able to access your booked Chat. More information on student data.
2.5 Pre-Chat checklist
Before your live Chat, you will need to:
- Book IT suite/provide internet access for students
- Ask your IT department to add the web pages on this page to your school network whitelist
- Test the Chat. Go to the staffroom, between 9am and 5pm any day during your Zone. It’s a good idea to use a student account, on a student computer, for the test (especially if your computer has different security settings).
2.6 Taking part in a live Chat
- When it’s time for your Chat, log in to your Zone
- Click the ‘Chat’ button on the top of your dashboard
- A moderator will have set the chat up for you
- Only students in your class can access your booked Chat
- If you have any issues call us ASAP on 01225 326892
3. Suggested lesson plans
There are many ways to use I’m a Scientist. We’ve put together three suggested lesson plans.
We developed them in consultation with teachers and they have been extensively tested. Most teachers find them extremely helpful.
Suggested adaptations: For lower and higher ability groups
Timings: Designed for 50 mins
Purpose: Develop skills for Working Scientifically.
Lesson 1 – “You’re the Judges!” Coming to it cold, students may just vote for the scientist with the nicest photo, or the best joke. This lesson plan gets students thinking about some of the deeper issues, while still giving them ownership of the criteria they come up with. It doesn’t tell them what they should consider.
There’s no right or wrong answer, but all students should have thought about how we judge scientists by taking part. Do the exercise interactively using the web ranking system we have produced. We can share how other classes have ranked the criteria.
Lesson 2 – “Meet the Scientists” This lesson encourages students to examine the scientists’ profiles and think about what they might like to ask them. It’s a chance for students to discuss the interesting things they’ve found and maybe do some extra research before their live chat.
Lesson 3 – “Live Chat” Interaction with scientists and voting gives students practice at evaluating scientific information and making informed judgements from it. Giving students a real say about something gives them a reason to engage.
4. Supporting the Science Capital Teaching Approach
I’m a Scientist helps you to use the Science Capital Teaching Approach with your class. This approach is designed to support teachers in helping students find more meaning and relevance in science and, as a result, engage more with the subject.
The approach consists of three main pillars, all of which can be supported using the I’m a Scientist activity.
- Personalising and localising: Going beyond contextualising, to connect to the actual experiences, understandings, attitudes and interests of young people.
- Eliciting-valuing-linking: Inviting students to share knowledge, attitudes and experiences; recognising these as having value; and connecting this back to the science.
- Building the dimensions of science capital: Considering the eight dimensions when developing activities, lessons or programmes.
The ideas for the Science Capital Teaching Approach were co-developed and trialled over four years between UCL researchers and 43 secondary science teachers in England. More information.
5. Extension activities
- Go through your Chat transcript with your class
- Review questions asked by your students
- Set an evening Chat as homework
- Evening Chats are 7pm to 8 pm on Thursdays during the Zone
- Remind students they can join these from home with their family and friends
- Final day:
- On the final day there is a live Chat from 12pm to 3pm
- During this Chat, the Zone Winner will be announced
6. Tips for first timers
We asked teachers what tips they would give to other teachers taking part in I’m a Scientist for the first time.
Here are the most common answers:
- Spend more time preparing students
Run lessons 1 and 2 before the live chat lesson to prepare students.
“We have just had our live Chat. It was the best yet I think, because we had spent much more time on preliminary activities so we had loads of questions to ask.”
- Involve more students
- Encourage students to be creative with their questions
There are better ways to use the activity than using the scientists as Googlers.
“Get the students to investigate the interests and subject of study of each scientist, so they can ask appropriate and useful questions.”