Becky Parker

Director, Institute for Research In Schools

Becky is the Director of the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS). IRIS facilitates school students and teachers involvement in authentic research for organisations including NASA and CERN. The organisation provides students with the opportunity to contribute to large-scale, collaborative projects being conducted on earth and in space.

After a physics degree and research at the University of Chicago, Becky taught in a variety of schools. She has received an Honorary Fellowship from the Institute of Physics and the Kavli Education Medal from the Royal Society.
Where’s your homework? It’s in space Miss

Set up in March by professor Becky Parker – the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) is giving young people opportunities to get involved in the science - discover more about her Dots talk.

“We don’t value what students’ have to offer,” said Becky Parker, opening speaker at Dots 2017. Becky took to the stage to talk about how IRIS is changing the face of scientific learning and collaboration with academics. The institute already has 429 schools signed up, giving students the chance to flourish by providing them with the chance to do something that isn’t in standard textbooks. Students are even challenging NASA on the accuracy of their data.

“This is how we tackle scientific question – to change the experience students have of science.”

Becky talked through some of the amazing projects her students have taken part in. On a trip to CERN, the students asked: “Why don’t you put Medipix chips in space – nobody has put these detector chips into space.” A race between NASA and the students followed, with NASA narrowly winning – but not before the kids from IRIS found an error in the space agency’s data.

“We don’t value enough what young people have to offer. Let’s improve what we offer students.”

IRIS is giving children amazing confidence – children are analysing data to help out CERN, working with Peter Higgs up in Edinburgh. The students are also working on genome decoders, looking at gases on Mars, and working with the Eden project thinking about suitable atmosphere for life. What’s more ,IRIS is transforming people’s views by showing them how effective students can be when they’re actively engaged with the science community.