Key information & lesson plans

I’m a Researcher is an online activity, where students connect with real researchers and working STEM professionals.

Students challenge the researchers over fast-paced online text-based live Chats. They Ask the researchers anything they want, and Vote for their favourite to win a prize of £500 to communicate their work with the public.

We’ve prepared the information below to help you and your students get the most benefit out of the activity.

Quickstart – what to do first

    1. Read through the information and lesson plansAll the information you’ll need is on this page, or in the PDF booklet above
    2. Book your live chats with a class you’ve used before or with a new one

. Your students will to log in to their accounts (either from the URL you’ve given them, or the login cards you’ve created – make sure you do this before your CHAT. Once logged in, students can:
– Create a nickname to be shown when they post on the site
– Answer questions on their own profiles to tell the researchers a bit about themselves
– Read the researchers profiles and start to ASK questions

How it works

How much time should you spend on the activity?
Minimum: 2 lessons

We suggest one introductory lesson or piece of homework reading the researchers profiles and posting questions in ASK, and one lesson of live CHAT with the researchers.

What is I’m a Researcher?
Read this page to your students to tell them about the activity. It may help to have a look around the website with your students.

Live Chats
Book your live chat sessions each term at and check the IT will work by sending this link to your IT department:

You get one CHAT per class. We suggest you book early as slots get snapped up fast! Live CHATs are 30 minutes long and text based, so no sound or video is required. The class will need to log in at least 10 minutes before the chat is due to start.

Students can VOTE for their favourite researcher to win £500 to spend on further public engagement.

Lesson Plans and Resources

The preparation work (lessons 1 & 2) can be compiled into one lesson if needed.

It may be useful to have a preparation lesson in a computer room so students can explore the researchers’ profiles independently and ASK questions ahead of their live chat.

Lesson 1 – You’re the Judges!

Lesson 2 – Meet the Researchers

Lesson 2 – Meet the Researchers (in computer room)

Lesson 3 – Live chat

Extra Resources from the University of Oxford

  • Oxford Sparks: What is Machine Learning?
    In these resources students develop their own algorithms (KS3), explore the ethics of leaving decision making to machines (KS4), learn how images can get stored as data, and delve into what the consequences of false positives and negatives could be for various applications (KS5).
  • “What is Machine Learning?” video
    In this animation University of Oxford researchers take a look at how statistics and computer science can be used to make machines that learn.

Parental Engagement

Involve parents and carers in what you are doing in school through the extra, evening chats. These have been really popular in previous events, with students keen to introduce their families and friends to the researchers they have been connecting with in class.

More information about evening chats including dates, wording for the school newsletter and flyers to send home with students.

Useful Links

If you get stuck at any point during the activity, try the Staffroom, our FAQ page or get in touch via email:

  • Staffroom – the staffroom is open during the two weeks of the event from 9am to 5pm. You can chat with the moderators and it’s a great place to get help quickly.
  • Guide to live chat transcripts (PDF) – live chat transcripts can be useful tools for the students to reflect on the lesson, and to look in more detail at the questions and answers from the chat. This guide will show you how to download the transcript, and how to use the data in the file.
  • Student Data: What we ask for and why (PDF) – about how we use students information in compliance with GDPR.

Teacher tips

Other teachers’ experiences:

  1. Read all information up front and familiarise yourself with the website.
  2. Test the IT before the live chat – look out for emails about the drop in test session.
  3. Do the prep lessons.I found a big difference between the two groups with differing prep.
  4. Print the researchers’ profiles for the lesson before the chat and get students to plan their questions.
  5. Be clear about expectations in live chats: avoid spam, encourage students to be patient when waiting for answers.
  6. Running a live Chat prompt sheet: this prompt sheet has been designed so that other teachers can run the Chat for you. Pass on this document to them.

After the activity

  • Please fill in the feedback survey we email you. You are the expert on what happened in your classroom. Your feedback helps us to continuously improve the event.
  • The researchers and moderators pick a student winner – someone who has really engaged with the event. They get a certificate and a £20 gift voucher prize. We’ll let you know if this is one of your students.