Teacher Guidance

1. Overview of the activity

Students can get close to a large-scale genomics project right on their doorstep.

Students, aged 15 to 18, are invited to follow a never-before-seen effort to sequence and annotate the genomes of all 60,000 species living in Britain and Ireland!

Until July 2022, students can engage with the Darwin Tree of Life project, and the Experts working on acquisition,  sequencing and annotation through Schools @ Darwin Tree of Life.

Schools @ Darwin Tree of Life is an online, text-based STEM engagement activity. Students will:

  • Follow a large-scale, long-term research project in real-time
  • Develop their understanding of scientific thinking and processes with real-world examples
  • Gain a better understanding of current science and research – perfect for students considering STEM subjects in Higher Education
  • Have fun making connections with scientists and researchers

The activity is flexible, it’s all online and accessible from school or at home. All your students need is a computer or tablet, and Internet access – no audio or video is needed.

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2. Introducing the activity

Students can create an account using the unique registration link you receive when making your account. They are taken to The Origin, which provides them with all the information that they need about the activity and what they can do to complete it.

To complete the activity, students will:

  • Follow species through acquisition, sequencing and annotation.
  • ASK the teams working on acquisition, sequencing and annotation a question about their research, the methods they use or career opportunities!
  • Take part in the Quiz to embed understanding and be in with a chance of winning a £10 voucher!
  • Download their certificate to show their achievement

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3. Supporting your students

You can support your students by:

  • Engaging in dialogue about the species that your students are following along with and the external research articles they have read about the sequencing journey of those species.
  • Assign the recent Quiz as homework to support their learning potential.
  • Encourage your students to submit a question. The ASK feature works as part of an introduction or plenary to your lesson.
  • Host a lunchtime club where students can attend monthly live Chats with working scientists.
  • Book an exclusive live Chat with teams of scientists for groups of students. You can find the booking form on your Dashboard.

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4. Live Chat for all students

Once a month there is a live Chat for all students. Scientists who are working on the Darwin Tree of Life project will be available across the 60 minutes to engage and interact with students through text-based sessions.

Each Chat has a theme that has been chosen to take a deeper dive into crucial points along the acquisition, sequencing and annotation journey.

The date and time of the next live Chat can be found on the Homepage.

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5. Book a live Chat

Use the form on the right-hand side of your Dashboard to request specific live Chat dates and times. We will be in touch with a confirmation.
Email support@imascientist.org.uk

The activity has been an excellent way for us to raise aspirations, break down barriers around STEM subjects, and open up opportunities for students to engage with people working in these sectors which they might not otherwise have been able to do.” – Teacher


5.1 Pre-Chat checklist

Before your live Chat, you will need to:

  • Book IT suite/provide internet access for students
  • Ask your IT department to add the web pages on this page to your school network whitelist
  • Test the Chat. Go to the staffroom, between 9am and 5pm any weekday. It’s a good idea to use a student account, on a student computer, for the test (especially if your computer has different security settings).

5.2 Taking part in a live Chat

  • When it’s time for your Chat, log in to your Zone
  • Click the ‘Chat’ button on the top of your dashboard
  • A moderator will have set the chat up for you
  • Only students in your class can access your booked Chat
  • If you have any issues call us ASAP on 01225 326892

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6. Supporting the Science Capital Teaching Approach

I’m a Scientist helps you to use the Science Capital Teaching Approach with your class. This approach is designed to support teachers in helping students find more meaning and relevance in science and, as a result, engage more with the subject. 

The approach consists of three main pillars, all of which can be supported using the I’m a Scientist activity.

  1. Personalising and localising: Going beyond contextualising, to connect to the actual experiences, understandings, attitudes and interests of young people.
  2. Eliciting-valuing-linking: Inviting students to share knowledge, attitudes and experiences; recognising these as having value; and connecting this back to the science.
  3. Building the dimensions of science capital: Considering the eight dimensions when developing activities, lessons or programmes.

The ideas for the Science Capital Teaching Approach were co-developed and trialled over four years between UCL researchers and 43 secondary science teachers in England. More information.

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