Victory in the Zone for Mark Kennedy, PhD Student
Mark Kennedy, a UCC PhD Student has been crowned victor of the Oxygen Zone as part of the "I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here" Competition. Mark has described his work as "...seeing what happens when some of the most energetic and destructive objects in the Universe (black holes and neutron stars) come close to stars like our own sun."
"I'm a Scientist, get me out of here!" is an outreach event like no other. Over the course of 2 weeks, 5 scientists battle it out for votes from secondary and primary school students by answering questions and taking part in live chats. Every day during the second week, the person with the least amount of votes is eliminated until, on the last day, there are only 2 people left to battle it out for the €500 prize. This year, I took part in the general science "Oxygen" zone, and after 2 exhausting weeks, I was crowned the winner.
The 2 weeks were really fascinating – the questions from the students were excellent and helped remind me why I love physics. Making sure I was able to answer some of the questions that students asked led me back to some of the interesting puzzles that got me interested in physics in the first place (for example, why is time travel not possible? Or what exactly causes a rainbow?).
One of my favourite parts of the 2 weeks was how it never felt like a competition between the 5 scientists in my zone – we all were just talking about something that we love and have great passion for, and as much as I loved the live chats with the students, I also loved the few chats were it just ended up being a few of the scientists, talking about our different fields.
I would recommend taking part in "I'm a scientist" to anyone, no matter their field or level of study. It's a really unique experience, and a rare opportunity to interact with students in schools from all over the country.
If you are interested in the above competition, please follow this link: http://imascientist.ie/