I took part in the June 2012 I’m a Scientist event, which is a Science outreach programme aimed at introducing schoolchildren to science. The event takes the form of an knock-out competition with the students voting for their favourite scientist. Each day, the scientist with the fewest votes is ‘evicted’.
I was one of the ‘experts’ in the Laser zone, which was a special zone for students to ask specific questions about lasers rather than general science. Five scientists took part, all of whom were involved in the use of lasers for research. Most of the questions were related to our work, or more generic optics topics and I don’t think that I’ve typed “Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation” so frequently ever before.
This was not my first experience of science outreach - I did some schools workshops when I was finishing my PhD - but it was certainly the most extensive. Each day, there were probably 30 questions to answer from pupils in addition to several live chats where a whole class was online at once asking questions to one or more scientists. Overall, this was a hugely valuable experience because it allowed me to share my wonder and interest in Physics and optics, and reminded me why I chose this as a career.