So You Want To Be A Scientist? What's it all about?

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Got an experiment you want to conduct? A theory to put to the test?

Material World, Radio 4's weekly science show, is searching for the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year.

It's not just working scientists who have light bulb moments. Anyone, anywhere can have a brainwave that's worth investigating. But most of us never get the chance. This is that chance.

“Anyone, anywhere can have a brainwave that's worth investigating.”

We want to hear your ideas, however practical, whimsical, big or small. We're not hoping to crack nuclear fusion, reverse climate change or discover the Higgs particle.

Your ideas may involve:

  • - your local environment
  • - human behaviour
  • - kitchen chemistry
  • - energy and recycling
  • - traffic and transport
  • - amateur astronomy

Here are some examples of amateur research projects that don't require a Large Hadron Collider to carry out.

If your idea is selected, you'll be doing the experiment in your spare time, from the kitchen table or the garden shed. Plus you'll have help from the country's top researchers.

Give it a go. It could just change your life. It might even change the world.

Entries are now closed.

The judges chose these four finalists from the 10 shortlisted entries to go on and perform their experiments

What ideas are we looking for?

Science isn't all about giant leaps and sudden paradigm shifts.

It's mostly the opposite - single steps which contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field.

Your idea is likely to be on a small scale, perhaps observational in nature, and be based around simple experiments.

It could be focused on exploring some aspect of your local environment or perhaps even put someone else's scientific claims to the test.

The only ideas we're definitely not interested in are inventions: that's the domain of our chums at Dragons' Den.

If you've got a good idea and you've got enough time and energy to carry out the research between April and September 2010, then send it to us using the entry form.

Entries are now closed.

The Finalists

If you're amongst our finalists, you'll carry out your research with the help of a professional scientist.

Plus you'll appear on the BBC to tell everyone how you're getting on.

Once you've got your results, you'll be presenting your work at the British Science Festival in September 2010.

Then if our panel of esteemed judges select you as winner, you'll send your findings to a science journal for peer review and possible publication.

Who can enter?

This is open to anyone who isn't a professional scientist.

If you're currently working in science, or studying science at university level, then you won't be eligible. If you've ever published a paper in a science journal, sadly you can't enter.

However, if you've never had anything to do with science, or studied it years ago then that's fine and dandy.

If you are currently taking science at A-level then we'd love you to enter.

Or maybe your job is technical, and you operate a large machine, but you're not involved in any scientific research, then that's probably OK too.

What we're offering is the chance for someone, who perhaps hasn't done any science since school, but has a great idea, to make it happen.

Please see our terms & conditions for more information.

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