I’m a Scientist Ireland – end of?

We’ve had 10 years of highly effective science engagement.

Over 22,000 students have connected with nearly 450 brilliant scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

I’m a Scientist Ireland has supported school students’ science capital and helped initiate brilliant science communication projects like REEL:Life Science and The Wild Postcard Project

However, our latest application for Discover Programme funding was rejected. Unless alternative funding comes forward, I’m a Scientist in Ireland will cease to run.

Why fund I’m a Scientist?

Because it works.

We encourage all students to consider science as something ‘for them’. We want to break down barriers to STEM-related careers and discoveries. The concept of science capital explains those barriers. I’m a Scientist has been thoroughly evaluated to show that it supports students’ science capital.

We reach schools from across Ireland. Last November, 66% of students were from priority schools in underserved areas and/or at DEIS schools. We also engage most students in a class. 85% of students are actively engaged with the scientists.

Organisations can support I’m a Scientist with between €1,500 and €15,000.

We are developing capacity and skills for the delivery of public engagement. I’m a Scientist is “the best crash course in science communication there is”. It is a high-quality, low-risk opportunity for scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff to dip their toes into the world of science engagement. It is flexible, experiential learning. Participants report improvements in their communication skills. They report increased confidence and motivation to do more public engagement. Just ask Enda O’Connell or Eileen Diskin.

Participants also gain access to the IAS Academy.

How to support I’m a Scientist?

The only way we can run the I’m a Scientist activity in November 2023 is if we have sufficient support.

Organisations can support the project with between €1,500 and €15,000.  Funding organisations are guaranteed space for their staff and wider networks. They can also reserve space for nominated schools.

€1,500 reserves 5 staff places and 10 classes.

For more information and express your support for engaging underserved students in Ireland please email Shane McCracken, Project Director.

Why was your SFI application rejected?

Good question. 

The review panel provided us with some feedback. The main issue seemed to be that:

“reviewers expressed doubts about the long-term impact of the program and how it could contribute to the career choices students make.”

It’s true. I’m a Scientist does not have a long-term impact on students’ career choices. What we impact is their science capital. We make this clear in our Theory of Change.

When science capital is supported over time by a range of factors (including teachers and parents and, yes, STEM interventions like I’m a Scientist), that will have a long-term impact on students’ career choices.

Annual funding, like the Discover Programme, can only really focus on short-term interventions. Providing long-term impact evidence is impossible within a 12 month period. I’m a Scientist is based on a philosophy that takes in the big picture, and works in the long term.

We are unapologetic about this. Simple, short, effective interventions like I’m a Scientist can be implemented simply and widely by schools. They support the STEM teaching environment, and contribute to the overall life chances of students. 

Posted on February 16, 2023 by modjosie in News. Leave a comment

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