SCIENTISTS who investigated a Costa Rican volcano were in the hot seat as they answered pupils' questions at a special event.

‘Sparks Live: Sampling the Earth’s interior in Costa Rica’ saw academics from a team that twice visited the Central American country speak to students at Wood Green School, Witney.

The scientists in the spotlight flew in from across the world to chat about the study, tell behind the scenes stories and reveal how they entered the industry.

Students then grilled the team on the core issues of the research, which aims to gain a better picture of the role of carbon in the Costa Rican volcanic arc.

The event was spearheaded by Kirsty Heber-Smith, an ex-student of Wood Green headteacher Rob Shadbolt.

Ms Heber-Smith looks after Oxford University's Oxford Sparks digital engagement platform for science, which aims to bring scientific disciplines alive to a wider audience.

She hoped the day could be a catalyst for similar events with other Oxfordshire schools.

She said: "The overall message is to show it's cool to be a scientist.

"You don't have to be the brightest kid in class but passion can take you so far in life.

"We don't engage with our local schools enough so want to do more."

Researchers from the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and geology were involved in the investigation for the Deep Carbon Observatory, a global community of more than 1000 scientists studying carbon in the Earth.

The first trip saw 25 people from six nations meet in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, for a 12-day sampling expedition.

Scientists from three of the four disciplines were present in Witney, including Donato Giovannelli, microbial ecologist and research fellow at the Institute for Marine Science of the National Research Council of Italy, Ancona.

He was joined by Dr Karen Lloyd, marine microbiologist and associate professor at The University of Tennessee, and Dr Peter Barry, a noble gas geochemist from Oxford University, with the event streamed live on Facebook.

Mr Barry said: "We were really impressed with the questions and I thought the students were super keen and engaged.

"I hope it was beneficial for them."

"It's a great way to communicate what we've done and get young scientists interested.

"It's good to show them that being a scientist isn't necessarily a boring job, sitting in a lab with a white coat on."

Mr Shadbolt added: "There was so much for the students to take away from it.

"Some people talked about the science but others were interested in the creative aspects.

"These guys were inside a volcano, so what's not to like?"

Those in the spotlight were Dr Peter Barry a Noble Gas Geochemist from the University of Oxford, flying in from the USA, Dr. Karen Lloyd, Marine microbiologist, Associate Professor, The University of Tennessee and travelling from Italy, Microbial Ecologist, Donato Giovannelli, Research Fellow at the Institute for Marine Science of the National Research Council of Italy in Ancona.

The event saw scientists speak about why it was important for research studies like this to take place, tell some funny behind the scenes stories of what it is like to be on an expedition like this with scientists from around the world and an chance to find out how they got into their field of research. The event is set to run for an hour with the opportunity for the audience to ask their own questions.

They carried out an interdisciplinary project.

Short film on YouTube done by a professional film crew.

The event was streamed live on Facebook.

The team visited volcanic areas and hot springs.

Visited Costa Rica's Volcanic Arc.

On 11 February 2017, 25 researchers from six nations met in San Jose, Costa Rica for a 12-day sampling expedition across the Costa Rica volcanic arc. Members of the four Deep Carbon Observatory Science Communities conducted a scientific investigation at Costa Rican volcanic sites through the lenses of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. This multidisciplinary view is affording researchers from different fields the unique opportunity to work side by side, sharing their insights, and asking questions to achieve a broader picture of the role of carbon in this active volcanic arc.