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How to Interview a Scientist

Send us your interviews with scientists, and they might end up on our show! In this special bonus episode, we teach you how to interview a scientist. It's easier than you might think, and it's super fun. You might learn something that changes your life, or at least your outlook on science! Plus, our listener Vida finds out for us if you can send a robot into a black hole.

Ready to try it for yourself? Here's how you get started.

Find a Scientist!

If you have a specific topic you want to talk about, get help searching for experts online. Academic scientists have their email addresses published on their faculty pages, and can be surprisingly responsive to an "interview request."

Scientists love to chat on Twitter, too. Ask your parents to post a request for you using the hashtag #scicomm, and you'll hear from a scientist who loves to communicate about science to the public.

There are also many "Ask a Scientist" pages from science institutions for public outreach. Try asking a NASA scientist, a British scientist, a Cornell materials scientist, or a cat named Dr. Universe.

Create a List of Questions

Having a list of questions is like wearing a life jacket to your interview. If you get nervous and forget everything you want to know, you'll have something to hold onto!

Order your questions by what you're most curious about. Here are a few ideas:

- How did you get interested in what you study?

- What's the most interesting thing that you've learned, and how did you find the answer?

- Why do you think people should know and care about what you study?

Set up your recording device

There are so many options for recording an interview, with technology you might already have. These how-to articles are a great place to start.

- Make a video!

Just as important as recording is to record in a quiet place with little to no background noise. Turn off the TV, loud fans, and tell your family and friends to pipe down for a minute! You're trying to do an interview.

Introduce yourself!

When you start your conversation with a scientist, let them know why you're interested in talking to them! And let them tell you a little bit about themselves and what they do.

Ask Your Questions

This is the fun part! You have your list, but it's okay to find new questions you want to ask based on their response to your question. As they talk, hold your new question in your head or write it down. Then ask! It's okay if you don't get to all of your written down questions as long as you're learning something interesting.

If the scientist says something you don't entirely understand, or they are using unfamiliar words, don't be afraid to ask what they mean! Here are some good phrases to help you:

- "What do you mean by that?"

- "Can you tell me more about what you just said? I'm not sure that I get it yet."

Remember, it's the scientist's job in the interview to explain their science to you! But you can help them in their job by being clear about what you understand.

Thank the scientist!

Make sure the scientist knows that you appreciate their time!

After the interview is over, send them a thank you note or email.

Send your interview to Tumble!

We want to hear your interviews! They might end up on our podcast (with your permission of course).

Email the audio file to us at or use our special contact form on our website to upload your file!

We'd love to hear what you thought of interviewing a scientist!

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