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UKRI supporting pupils to engage with cutting-edge science online during school closures


UKRI supporting pupils to engage with cutting-edge science online during school closures
  • UK Research and Innovation is providing funding to I’m a Scientist, Stay at Home!, a unique online platform enabling school students to engage with STEM research during the school closures
  • The project aims to reach 150,000 school students in over 1,200 schools and involve over 1,000 researchers across the UK

With schools closed to most pupils because of coronavirus, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is supporting young people to stay connected with each other and enjoy inspiring science lessons through a free, safe online platform, I’m a Scientist, Stay at Home!.

UKRI is funding I’m a Scientist, Stay at Home! a unique programme where students can engage with scientists over fast-paced online text-based chats. Pupils can ask them anything they want such as: What’s the nearest meteorite to us? What’s your favourite thing about being a scientist? These chats are complemented with lesson plans for teachers to engage their students and at the end students vote for their favourite scientist.

I’m a Scientist provides a safe, moderated space for students to be inspired by science through conversations with active research staff. UKRI funding is enabling I’m a Scientist to expand its existing online platform to reach 150,000 students in over 1,200 schools. It will also involve over 1,000 researchers across the UK, many of whom are employed or funded by UKRI and the Research Councils.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has funded the Medical Research Zone in phase 1 of this initiative starting with around 30 MRC-funded researchers and technicians engaging in conversations with school pupils from 20 April.

With limited opportunities for practical science classes and engagement with research, I’m a Scientist provides a unique opportunity for classes to reconvene and explore cutting-edge scientific research together. Taking part in I’m a Scientist has been shown to help students get a better understanding of research and gain confidence in asking questions about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It also supports researchers to improve their communication skills and enables them to engage with young people from regions across the UK.

“This is a great opportunity for us to support STEM teaching during this difficult time for everyone. I’m a Scientist, Stay at Home! will inspire young people about research and the role it plays in our lives as well as provide a great way for UKRI researchers and technical staff to engage with young people,” explains Tom Saunders, UKRI Head of Public Engagement.

“The classes really enjoyed the chat. In fact, some students are asking when the next one will be!” – Moira, Teacher.

“The format was so much fun to be involved in. The mix of science and career questions, along with those of a rather more off-beat nature, kept it dynamic and enjoyable.” – David, genetics researcher.

Part of the UKRI’s vision for public engagement is to nurture a future generation passionate about research and innovation. To achieve this UKRI funds a range of programmes that aim to inspire and involve young people including the STEM Ambassadors programme and the British Science Association’s CREST awards and British Science Week. These programmes are also supporting home schooling during the school closures through a range of free resources for parents, teachers and young people.


Other UKRI-funded resources for young people and teachers for the school closures

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