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So You Want to Be a Scientist?

As Material World launches the search for the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year, Brian Cox explains what makes a good experiment.

Material World announces the return of 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' - the search for the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year.

Last year 69 year old gardener Ruth Brooks from Devon was crowned the winner for her research into the homing distance of snails. With the help of ecologist Dr Dave Hodgson from the University of Exeter, she created an experiment in her back garden to measure how far she should move her snails away to stop them coming back to eat her petunias.

"The whole year was filled with fun," said Ms Brooks. "For a non-scientist like me, it was great to have my research idea taken seriously. If I can do it, anyone can - just have a go!"

Now you can put your ideas, hunches and theories to the test. If you're chosen as one of Material World's four finalists, your entry will be turned into a real experiment which you'll carry out with the help of a professional scientist.

A panel of judges, chaired by Nobel prize winning scientist Sir Paul Nurse, will select four finalists in December. The amateur scientists start their research in January and will present their results at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2012, where the judges will choose a winner.

Entries are open online from 26 Sept until 31 Oct:

Release date:


2 minutes