What’s better than just doing science? Communicating it!

By Apple Chew, 11 June 2020

This is a bite-sized blog piece to share my experience after joining the I’m a Scientist, Stay at Home programme during the UK lockdown. In short, I highly encourage all scientists to give it a go!

Across the UK, school students’ education has been disrupted, classes are split up and science teachers are tasked with providing remote activities. I will share with you a few programmes out there to help pupils stay connected with STEM, their teachers and their classmates. As an amateur in science communication, I haven’t developed enough confidence to speak to students on face-to-face video calls like the Skype a Scientist or Scientist Next Door programme. I got to know about I’m A Scientist through an internal public engagement newsletter from University of Edinburgh.

Through tried-and-tested text-based format (45 mins), scientists get to: 

  • Answer questions about science or engineering and working in STEM
  • Chat with teachers and pupils
  • Build their public engagement experience
  • Get to know other cool scientists and their work

 Do you chat with students alone?

There’s always a few scientists in each chat. No pressure! Feel free to chat with other scientists as well about their work.

Why should you sign up?

  • Challenge yourself to explain concepts in layman language
  • Re-discover science with students and other scientists (gives my brain a break from my field)
  • Take a mental break from your usual routine
  • It’s an opportunity to be silly and fun and have a laugh !

Examples of the science chat session:

Here’s a snapshot of the latest ‘themed’ chats that I joined in line with World Food Safety day: https://twitter.com/_applechew/status/1269995287986266112?s=20  

What’s one thing that I’ve learnt?

That every conversation needs to be a two-way engagement. I asked a student the same question she asked me: "What are the top 3 things you are doing for the environment?" and it was nice to hear her answers.

3 interesting questions you got asked by the students?

1. Is genetic engineering embryos legal?

Yes! But GM babies cannot be born (yet).

2. What is the impact of Covid-19 on food production?

Sadly, there’s actually a huge increase in food waste. Farmers are dumping milk and burying huge piles of fresh and healthy crops to make compost. There is no demand for them because the universities, schools and restaurants that normally purchase large quantities of food are closed.  

3. What’s one thing you regret about your job? 

Doing lab work produces a lot of plastic waste. It’s painful to be part of the problem, even until today.


Sign up at the link below:


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Apple Chew,

1st year PhD student at University of Edinburgh,

Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences.

Twitter @_applechew

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