Thanks to all the students for making this such a great event! Also, thanks to the teachers for getting your students involved- and thanks for voting for me!! Also a shout out to ModEmily for trying to control those frenzied chats (but great fun!)- Talk about multi-tasking…
Before the event started I was a bit nervous, thinking I wouldn’t be able to answer loads of the questions, and it would be really hard. But, I ended up having so much fun that I didn’t worry about getting things wrong- it turns out that “I don’t know” is a perfectly valid answer. This is particularly applicable for me at the moment, since I am going to have my PhD defense (viva) in 2 weeks (eep!). And when I didn’t know an answer, it was actually great because all of the scientists in my zone were REALLY knowledgeable…
So, thanks to the other scientists for giving great answers and really getting involved in the project- I know I wasn’t the only one spending half of my working day on imascientist.ie, eagerly waiting for some new (mental!) questions from the students. I was also struck by the depth of some of the questions getting asked- it showed that a lot of the students really sat down and tried to ask profound questions about space. I think my favorite question has to be “how do you make pancakes in space?” It started a great conversation about how to make space pancakes. I would love to see a crazy machine get built at the Maker Fair (eh, David McKeown?).
I have to say I also learned a lot about nano science and engineering from Arlene and David. By the way I can’t wait to start planning our solar system amusement park. I was really impressed by Eugene and Colin‘s knowledge about.. everything! Those guys really know what they are talking about. One of the reason’s I liked this event so much was because each of the scientists involved was coming from such a different perspective on space.
So, now that I have a great opportunity to do some public outreach with €500 (!!), I’ll tell you a little about what I want to do. My idea is to build an educational website (solarsurfer.org) aimed at Irish primary and secondary students to teach science using astronomy as a vehicle. The website will have multiple levels (one for younger students, older students, and the general public). I want it to be story-driven so that your character (the solar surfer) rides a solar storm through the different parts of the solar system, stopping at each planet to learn about another topic of science that is applicable to space science. Eventually there will be comic book elements and mini-games that will reward the student for progressing through the website.
Currently I am trying to partner with teachers, people in an education department, or anyone how is interested in this sort of project to figure out how to make something useful and interactive that can actually be used in the classroom. At the moment I need help going through the Irish primary/secondary school science curricula to draft up a plan on how to use astronomy/space to hit all of the topics. I really like the idea of using games and interactive media to teach.