Five MLFPM fellows participated in “Science is Wonderful!” on November 10-26, 2021. The initiative aimed to bring together Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions researchers worldwide with classrooms from all over Europe in an online event to inspire pupils and provide a sneak-peek into the exciting world of research.
On the event platform, teachers could browse the profiles of all 500 participating researchers to select scientists based on research specialty, availability, and language spoken by them. Scientists could also contact teachers to propose activities. Initial enthusiasm among fellows was high, with individual experiences varying. Read their feedback below.
Anastassia Kolde: I instantly knew I would like to participate when I learned about the “Science is Wonderful!” program. Talking about my research in statistics to kids, in a language that they understand, is really close to my heart. I was ready and eager to meet the pupils, but not a single teacher contacted me. I was also chosen to give a webinar in Estonian, but unfortunately, the technician was the only attendant there. However, I do not regret participating in this program because, as a result, I have a nice presentation suitable for a younger audience with lots of entertaining examples about statistics. This coming year, I will use this presentation in my kids’ school during their Professional and Personal Growth class. Given the opportunity, I’d sign up for the “Science is Wonderful!” program again. Still, I would be more proactive by introducing the program to local schools myself rather than relying on the program’s advertisement capabilities.
Diane Duroux: The idea of bringing children and scientists together was very promising, but some difficulties arose when connecting with schools. Interested teachers were invited to contact us, but it turned out that I did not receive any requests. After a few days, I tried the search tool available on the platform to filter teachers by language spoken and by a particular interest. I noticed that no French teacher had indicated an interest in mathematics. Therefore, this event did not lead to any exchanges for me. However, I still find it a great initiative. I will probably register again next year and contact the teachers even if they haven’t mentioned interest in math at first glance.
Emese Sükei: For me, “Science is Wonderful!” was an excellent experience. Initially, I was worried because nobody contacted me, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and reach out to a primary school English teacher. I proposed an interactive session in English, where I present the world of machine learning to kids and create some fun quizzes to get them more involved. She quickly replied and agreed to a call, so I started preparing the material. Explaining my work to elementary school kids was challenging, but their energy and excitement were truly rewarding. I was also contacted by a math teacher from my hometown to set up a session with her class of 14-year olds. I had to speak in Hungarian this time, so I had to first brush up on my technical vocabulary in my native language. We had a lovely session, and I received many great questions from the students. I would sign up again in a heartbeat!
Giulia Muzio: “Science is Wonderful!” has been one of the best outreach events I have ever participated in. I’ve been contacted by five teachers but managed to organize four meetings. My first meeting was with 14-15 years old students from Croatia who wanted to learn more about machine learning. We had our meeting in English, and we learned the basis of machine learning through interactive games and examples: it’s been enjoyable! The second meeting was with two classrooms of students from Italy, around 10. We discussed together (in Italian this time) DNA and the basis of Genetics. I loved how genuinely interested they were, both in the topic itself and the researcher’s career. DNA and Genetics were the main topics of my third meeting, with very curious 13 years old students from Italy. Finally, my last session was with 16 years old high school students, again from Italy, who wanted to know more about my Ph.D. project and Ph.D. life in general. To conclude, mine was a positive and enriching experience: I learned a lot during this event and hoped the same applied to the students I interacted with.
Pradeep Eranti: I was pretty excited about the chance to meet high-school students, given I did not have similar opportunities during my school days. Not to leave this fantastic opportunity to chance, I actively looked for the schools that facilitate English interactions and contacted around 15 of them. After an initial disappointment as none of them had replied to my inquiries by the end of the event week, luckily, one teacher from Lefkosia, Cyprus, provided me with an opportunity to interact with Grade-12 students studying Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. I found that they were deeply interested in medicine-related studies from their questions. One of them even asked me whether I could find a cure for Asthma through my Ph.D. studies as his classmate suffers from this disease. The students were also interested in knowing how researchers work, especially on disorders and their challenges, our day-to-day lives, etc. “Science is Wonderful!” was a unique outreach experience for me. I am already looking forward to next year’s edition and thinking about interactive activities for the students.