During April-July 2020 Ashfaq and Panos from Warwick University have been in involved in “I’m a Scientist, Stay at home”, a UK programme for chatting with UK students and teachers. This is an online activity that helps school students stay connected with science, their teachers, and their classmates during the school summer term. The activity gets young people talking to real scientists online through live chat sessions, to learn about real science. Due to the current situation worldwide, most outreach activities have been cancelled and this was a wonderful opportunity to reach out to school students while staying at home. Based on the field of study of each individual we were placed in different zones. Panos was placed in chemistry zone and Ashfaq in “Disease Detectives Zone”.
During the chats, Ashfaq and Panos had the opportunity to discuss their research and the work conducted in their labs. From their interaction with school students, they observed that the students often struggle to see the applications of the things they learn in classroom science lessons, especially if they don’t currently have science-related aspirations. In such situations, interactions with working scientists help them see the basic science getting translated into applied science in the form of product developments. It was also a great opportunity to help the students discover the wide range of STEM careers available to them, which would later help them make informed decisions about their future. Through this experience, Ashfaq and Panos have learnt about communicating our work in different styles and to different groups of people but more importantly, it taught them a lot about how to see the bigger picture of our work, and how to pull out the key bits of information.