A thunderstorm simulation in Romania, organ-dissecting workshops in Estonia and a spectacular light show in Birmingham were just a few of the thousands of free activities held on 25 September as part of the 2015 Researchers’ Night – Europe’s largest science festival.
Designed to showcase what researchers do and how their work benefits society, Researchers’ Night gives members of the public the opportunity to meet researchers and experience scientific research first-hand. This year was the 10th anniversary of this popular annual event with events held in over 300 cities in 28 European and neighbouring countries from the Faroe Islands in the north to the Canary Islands in the south.
Many of the activities are held in places such as city streets, parks and cafés and allow the public to experience science in fun and engaging ways. Through hands-on experiments, interactive science shows, guided tours of research labs and informal discussions, visitors were encouraged to find out about new research and its relevance to our everyday lives. There was something for everyone on every subject possible from astronomy to zoology.
In London, visitors could be some of the first to see fossil casts of a newly identified ancient human species in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Natural History Museum. Across France, people could participate in real research by playing a resource allocation game, designed by researchers in experimental economics, who will be analysing the data collected on the night. Using a mobile app and 3D glasses, visitors to a museum in Bucharest could see the world as a scorpion and chase their prey.
In Sweden events were held in 26 towns across the country attracting thousands of participants. Adults and children alike could enjoy physics and chemistry shows, try out 3D printing, learn how to programme a robot, discover how to make biodiesel from trees or discuss the kind of education we need in the future. A nation-wide photo competition challenged visitors to capture an image of a researcher at work and disprove the stereotypical view of scientists.
Swedish researchers also had their communication skills put to the test in the regional heats of the Researcher Grand Prix – a competition in which researchers are challenged to explain their research in an educational and inspiring way in just 4 minutes. Regional winners will go head to head in a national final to be held on 26 November in Stockholm.
“One of the aims of Researchers’ Night is to inspire more young people to consider research as a career. It is estimated that Europe will need an extra one million scientists by 2020 so it is vital that we get more young people interested in studying STEM subjects,” said Lotta Tomasson of VA (Public & Science) and national co-ordinator of Researchers’ Night (ForskarFredag) in Sweden.
“In Sweden, we run an extensive programme of activities on Researchers’ Night targeted specifically at school-age children. Our ‘borrow a researcher’ initiative for schools is particular popular. By meeting real researchers and finding out exactly what they do, young people can discover how exciting, diverse and worthwhile a career in research can be. There is a huge amount of exciting research taking place in Sweden and ForskarFredag helps to showcase it to the public.”
For more information about the 2015 Researchers’ Night visit: