Big Data Debate Kit

funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.

Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.

Our next debate kit is on Big Data and the sequencing of one million human genomes to have longer and healthier lives.

You can find more about our new debate kit and sign up to receive one here.

Posted on July 4, 2014 modangela in News | Leave a comment

Food Security Debate Kit – evaluation

fsdkAfter launching our Food Security Debate Kit, we emailed all the 791 teachers who requested it, we followed up with reminder emails, letters and phone calls. This way we collected feedback from online surveys, mailing campaigns and phone conversations, we analysed it and wrote it all up in a report.

We have estimated that at least 35% of teachers had used the Food Security Debate Kit within five months from receiving it. Each kit was used with more than 3 classes on average, which means that over 800 classes have been discussing about Food Security using our debate kit. We were happy to find out that 60% of the teachers who haven’t yet used the kit said that they use it in the future, when it fits better with the curriculum.

Apart from the kits that were directly requested from teachers, 510 were sent to STEM Contract Holders, Global Food Security distributed 353 through different members of the organisation, and 275 were sent to teachers who took part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here! in November 2013.

The evaluation also revealed that all the teachers think that their students are now more aware that feeding the World is a complex and global issue. More in detail, 85% of the teachers said that their students are now better at identifying local and seasonal foods.

If you want to read the complete report, you can download it here:
Food Security Debate Kit Evaluation (PDF 1,3KB)

Debate kits keep proving themselves as a successful tool to engage students in debates around science topics. We are already sending out our new debate kit on the topic of Electricity Distribution, and a new kit on the topic of Big Data will be realised in June. Sign up and we’ll keep you posted on these! 

Posted on March 24, 2014 modangela in News | Leave a comment

Electricity Distribution Debate Kit

“Should we build pylons in the Kinewell Valley?”

It sounds like the start of the argument best left to Retired Majors, but hidden within a seemingly simple question lies a rich vein of debate about how we produce and consume electricity in 21st century UK.

As with all science, facts and theories are only part of the story. Social issues and politics affect the way science and engineering is done. This Electricity Distribution debate pack examines issues including:

The new debate kit, commissioned by Western Power Distribution

The new debate kit, commissioned by Western Power Distribution

  • Environmental
  • Economics
  • Smart grids
  • Climate Change
  • Sustainability

This simple debate resource allows your students to find out what influences they way our country receives its power. The activity is designed to last for 50 minutes and takes minimal preparation. You’ll find resources and links on our electricity distribution page.

Sign up for the Electricity Distribution pack here or if you have already signed up for a previous kit then please check your email for instructions or email us at

This debate kit has been commissioned by Western Power Distribution. It was researched and written independently with complete editorial control exercised by the I’m a Scientist team.

Posted on February 12, 2014 Moderator - Shane in News | Leave a comment

Food Security debate kit feedback

We’ve just received a lovely email from a STEM Contract Holder up in Scotland. They took some Food Security debate kits along as part of their outreach work with local schools, and the science enrichment kits got some great feedback. Kevin McKeever, STEM Project Manager at Global Science, said:

We were out as part of our contractual requirements (we have to visit the 92 High Schools in East of Scotland) to North Berwick High School yesterday, and the teacher was absolutely made up with the pack that we took out – this was something practical she was actively looking for and was intending to write material herself, so we won a watch, and not to mention you guys too.

She liked the packs so much so, that she asked if I could get her additional copies, and that way she could cover all the classes in the year group.”

Kevin has asked us for 30 more kits as “the feedback from each school has been really really positive”, he added that Global Science “will be actively promoting this fantastic resource”.

If you’re a STEM Contract Holder like Kevin and would like some kits, email, or if you’re a teacher yourself then sign up for a kit by completing the form on the right.

Posted on August 30, 2013 ModHannah in News | Leave a comment

Food Security debate kit

Our latest free debate kit is ready. It’s on Food Security, asking: 

Should our school only buy food produced in the UK?”

What’s it all about?

New debate kit, commissioned by the Global Food Security programme

New debate kit, commissioned by the Global Food Security programme

Global food security is a huge issue. An increasing population, decreasing land area, and the effects of climate change mean improving food security sustainably is a real challenge. And it’s not just about providing everyone in the world with enough calories, but making sure that people are receiving the correct nutrients for a healthy and balanced diet.

The aim of this debate kit is to show students just how complex the issue of global food security is, and to encourage them to begin to consider and investigate some of the main issues surrounding the ethics of food production.

What’s in the kit?

Our kits follow a tried and tested format, based on character cards and lesson notes. Included in the kit are 8 debate cards outlining the opinions of a number of different fictional characters with an interest in food security, and teachers notes to help you to carry out the lesson effectively.

The question: Should our school only buy food produced in the UK?

Arguing for only UK-produced food:

  • Leanne Roberts - a farmer who cares about British farmers and the UK being self sufficient in food

  • Toby Swan - an allotment owner who believes that growing our own food makes us value it more and waste less

  • Food Security Debate Kit PDFJim Kernow - a fundraiser who wants us to stop taking away scarce resources from those in poorer countries

  • Corrine Radford - a green campaigner who thinks we should reduce carbon emissions by not transporting food long distances

Arguing against only UK-produced food:

  • Helen Harvey - a fair trade fruit importer who believes food should be grown in countries with the right climate and shipped rather than flown over

  • Anya Katzmareck - a vegetarian restauranteur who thinks it’s what we eat that matters, not where it’s from

  • Tony Percy - a chocolate fan who wants an interesting and varied diet

  • Murad Kamal - an ecologist who cares about the damage farming can do to the environment

What’s so good about the kits?

The kits are all about developing students’ debating and discussion skills around contentious issues, with social, ethical and environmental aspects all covered. Role play gives students a chance to explore the different sides of the issue and compare others’ points of view. For teachers, the kits provide an effective and structured resource which can be used again and again with little effort or preparation.

We’ve had some great feedback about previous kits. Our last debate kit, Drugs in Sport, was particularly popular:

The Debate Kits for Drugs in Sport and IVF are great. We know that debating skills are important for our students and our BTEC students can even pass some of their assessment criteria by engaging in debates. We’ll integrate these in our Yr 9 and 10 SoW.” - Ellie Russell, teacher, Trinity CE High School

“The kit was really good! – I used it with a Year 9 biology class, had them in groups with a chair person leading the disscusion and making a verdict on whether or not to ban drugs in sport. The cards really helped to liven up the debate with facts figures and personal anicdotes. The chair for each group had to compromise on the decision as there are valid reasons both for and against a complete ban. I then set a literacy based homework where they justified their own opinion on the use of drugs in sport.” - Jo Chinner, teacher

Who pays for them?

This debate kit was commissioned and funded by the Global Food Security programme, supported by the University of Nottingham. The Global Food Security programme brings together the UK’s main public funders of food-related research to meet the challenge of providing the world’s growing population with a sustainable, secure supply of nutritious food from less land and using fewer inputs.

How can I get some?

Sign up to request a kit by filling in your details at the top right of this page, and we’ll get it sent out to you as soon as they’re ready to go!

Download the Food Security Debate Kit here [.PDF]

Posted on May 1, 2013 ModHannah in News | Leave a comment

Using I’m a Scientist to enrich our curriculum – A teacher’s view

Debate kits and information sheets

After taking part in I’m a Scientist in June 2012, Ellie Russell, a science teacher from Trinity CE High School in Hulme, told us about other ways she uses I’m a Scientist resources. Here’s what she said…

I can’t remember who first told me about I’m a Scientist last year, but straight away I knew it was a concept that would appeal to our students. Since then we have signed up for several zones with different classes and the students have truly enjoyed engaging with real scientists and finding out a bit more about what they do.

To be honest, even though I’ve been really keen, it’s taken me a few more months to realise just how useful some of the other resources are for us too. We teachers are never very keen to read through all that useful support information!

The Debate Kits for Drugs in Sport and IVF are great. We know that debating skills are important for our students and our BTEC students can even pass some of their assessment criteria by engaging in debates. We’ll integrate these in our Yr 9 and 10 SoW.

The Information Sheets about Nuclear Power pro’s and cons are already differentiated and lend themselves nicely to KS4 ‘ideas about science’ in one of the Core Science units… and just this week we’ve been told that the fabulous online GM Food debate will be archived for future reference. This seems a perfect source for our students should they have a GCSE Case Study of a similar title.

In fact, we should really introduce all our classes to the website to keep in mind for future reference, regardless of which science route they take.

I’m going to make sure I take a closer look at all future material I’m sent!

Posted on November 29, 2012 Moderator - Emily in News | Leave a comment

Drugs in Sport debate kit evaluation

Back in 2008, as part of the I’m a Scientist pilot, we developed our first ever debate kit and sent it out to all teachers taking part. By 2010 we’d produced 3 more kits but then had a bit of a lull, and teachers started asking for new topics to debate in their classroom.

So, what better topic for a new kit than Drugs in Sport, in the year of the London 2012 Olympics. Well that’s what we thought, as did The Physiological Society who funded it.

When it came time to evaluate the debate kit this was therefore one of the main questions to answer. Was Drugs in Sport a good topic for a debate kit? Another key question was How many of the Drugs in Sport debate kits sent out were used?

We’ve emailed teachers we sent kits to, and sent letters asking for their feedback. From their responses we’ve evaluated the kit and written up our findings.

Here’s the final evaluation: Drugs in Sport debate kit report

Here’s a summary of what we found:

How many of the Drugs in Sport debate kits sent out have been used?

We estimate that at least 43% of the kits sent out have been used (around 860 kits) and there’s a strong indication that the majority of those who haven’t yet used it plan to use it in the future. The kits were also used by just under a third of teachers in I’m a Scientist – around 90 kits – and a further 100 kits are likely to be used in the future.

Was Drugs in Sport a good topic for a debate kit?

The topic of Drugs in Sport was very successful and popular – teachers requested this kit quicker than previous kits, nearly 300 new teachers signed up to receive it and we had very positive feedback from teachers. We think that the kit was popular partly as we hadn’t created a new one for nearly two years, but also because the topic really appealed to teachers.

We have received lots of positive feedback from teachers, including praise for the topic, content and structure of the debate kit, and also asking for more kits to be made. We were also surprised by how quickly teachers requested all of the 2,000 kits. We were still receiving requests after we’d distributed all the copies we had, and had to refer teachers to the downloadable digital version instead.

Physiology topics are relevant to many aspects of the curriculum, and teachers told us that this topic fitted well into Biology, Chemistry and Sports Science syllabuses including GCSEs, A Levels and BTECs. With the London 2012 Olympics it was a current topic that their students could easily relate to and were interested in.

What does this mean?

So, all in all it was very successful and we’re already thinking of topics for new debate kits. The current idea is looking at GM Food and whether it’s necessary in order to be able to feed the world in 2050.

Posted on September 28, 2012 Moderator - Rosie in evaluation | Leave a comment

That’s all folks

So far we have despatched 1,820 Drugs in Sport Debate Kits. We’ve got requests for another 254. And we only printed 2,000.

We’re going to search around and find enough kits for those who have already requested a kit, but from now one we can’t take anymore orders.

If you would like a Drugs in Sport Debate Kit you can download one from here.

Posted on April 23, 2012 admin in News | Leave a comment

Should ALL drugs be banned in sport?

A close up photo of a character card in the Drugs in Sport debate kitDoping in sport usually means the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but is can also mean techniques like ‘blood-doping’.

“Drugs in Sport” the fifth in the series of free I’m a Scientist Debate Kits explores the ethical issues around the use of drugs in sport such as possible harm to the athlete and unfairness.

This set of 8 characters will get students exploring the differences between different types of drugs and discussing their effect compared with non-drug techniques of improving performance.

To get your free copy of Drugs in Sport fill in the form and we’ll send you one in the post (UK and Republic of Ireland only).

What is a Debate Kit?
The thinking behind the kits is that, for very sound reasons, the post-2006 GCSE curriculum calls for far more debate and discussion in science. However, simple-to-use and effective resources to support this are lacking. As it’s a relatively new requirement, many teachers feel unequipped to facilitate discussions and told us that students often lack the skills they need.

These kits are designed to plug that gap. They give a teacher everything they need to run a debate on a set topic and help their students develop their discussion skills. The activity provides a structured way to start discussions and gets the students engaged in thinking about contentious science issues. Using eight characters, with different points of view, allows us to introduce issues from many different angles – ethical, social, economic, political. Young people consider and weigh up these questions in an integrated way.

Do they work?

Pack shot of the Drugs in Sport debate kit showing cards notes and walletWe think so. The School Science Review seems to think so. 98% of teachers who responded said they would recommend the kits to a colleague.

The kits are simple to use. We have produced a clear 50 minute lesson plan to be used with secondary school students of any age. The character cards are structured to help students develop on position on the question posed over time without leaping to an immediate conclusion.

Sign up to receive your free copy and find out for yourself.

The Physiological Society logoHow can you send these out for free?

Drugs in Sport is sponsored by The Physiological Society. Through its educational website, The Society provides interactive resources and competitions to enhance physiology teaching at ages 11-19 as well as information on physiology-related careers. Bringing together over 3,000 scientists from more than 60 countries, The Society also offers schools the opportunity to engage with scientists online, in the classroom or at universities. For further information, please email

We are also very grateful for the knowledge and advice given generously by Dr Charlotte Haigh and Dr Dave Lewis of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds.

Posted on March 1, 2012 admin in News | 5 Comments

Strong demand for Drugs in Sport kit

Reading through the draft copy for this latest debate kit made me smile.  It was very good.  Sure, I’m a bit of an Olympics geek and general armchair sportsman, but I felt it provided great angles to debate a very contentious, yet easy to grasp, scientific issue – Drugs in Sport. It seems as though I’m not the only one who likes the sound of it.

This is a quick update on how we are distributing the 2,000 kits that we have printed.

Previous recipients of debate kits

The first 4 debate kits enabled us to build a decent list of teachers who wanted them. Our evaluation showed that the kits were well used, but the last one to get posted out was in June 2010 so we thought it appropriate to ask those teachers to opt in to get the next one.

We emailed the 1,543 people on that list on 10th February 2012 giving them the option of clicking YES or NO in order to receive the next kit. It was just before half term, but we still had a decent response. 29.6% of recipients clicked on the email and 98.6% of the clicks were YES. The first 430 of our list had opted in.

We then emailed the remaining 1,105 members of the list who didn’t respond on 23rd February 2012 giving a little more detail, but maintaining the simple YES / NO response mechanism.  So far 19.8% have clicked. Satisfyingly 99% of those click were YES. Another 210 opt ins. On top of this a fair few teachers emailed their response in.

We plan a third final chance to opt-in. What makes that interesting is that we won’t have enough to send out to everyone. It will be first come, first served.

New sign ups

We’ve let the usual places know about the new kits. Planet Science featured them at the top of their weekly email, TES Forums and Science in School have all featured them. We emailed our usual lists of teachers and information sharers ask them to pass on the details to any teachers. We’ve had just short of 300 teachers sign up since the first emails went out. In fact another 8 signed up whilst I’ve been writing this post.

Republic of Ireland

This kit has been funded by The Physiological Society and their remit includes Ireland.  We’ve sent 250 kits to the Heads of Science at the largest schools in Ireland.

Physical Education

The subject matter was designed to appeal to PE teachers. We’ve identified 250 specialist PE schools and colleges and sent kits to the Head of PE at those schools.

So how many do we have left?

2,000 less

  • 640 opting in from existing lists
  • 280 new subscriptions
  • 250 to Ireland
  • 250 to Heads of PE in UK
  • 200 to The Physiological Society for distribution at conferences and by members

leaving 380.

Sign up fast.


Posted on March 1, 2012 admin in evaluation | Leave a comment