The Curiosity Zone was the first zone of I’m a Researcher, Get me out of here. It was funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, which is an EU funding programme to support research careers.
The Zone ran for three weeks, connecting secondary school students in Oxfordshire with 22 researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. The aim was to engage students with the wide variety of local researchers and to encourage students to attend to the live final at the Curiosity Carnival on 29th September.
In total, researchers from different disciplines answered 133 approved questions sent in by students in ASK and, there were 14 live chats with classes. The majority of the students who took part were in Science classes. There were also Geography and Psychology classes who contributed 30% of the total questions in ASK. The majority of the activity took place in the second two weeks, as the start of the event coincided with the first full week of the new academic year for students and teachers.
Many of the researchers engaged well, with 18 of the 22 attending a live chat and all of them answering questions in ASK. The most active researchers were also spread across the different university divisions, demonstrating that the online engagement worked for a variety of research disciplines.
The students voted for the five researchers they wanted to make up the panel in the live final. In the final itself at the Weston Library, the audience of 70 people put these researchers on the spot with their questions. At the end of the event the audience voted for their favourite researcher. Research engineer Priyanka Dhopade won the most votes, becoming the first champion of I’m a Researcher.