This weekend, thousands of researchers across Europe will be inspiring the public by showcasing the fascinating world of science at this year’s European Researchers’ Night.
Each year European Researchers’ Night engages around 1.5 million visitors in 30 European countries in public events aimed at highlighting the diversity of research and its impact research on our daily lives.
Known as ForskarFredag in Sweden, events are taking place in 30 cities across the country on 27-28 September. Visitors can choose from a dazzling variety of fun and interactive activities including hands-on experiments, spectacular science shows and space games. They can even participate in actual research by collecting data in the Star-Spotting Experiment.
ForskarFredag is Sweden’s most widespread science festival and co-ordinated nationally by the Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science). Local organisers include universities, research centres, science centres, municipalities, regional associations and museums.
“During ForskarFredag, thousands of encounters take place between researchers and members of the public. It is an opportunity to find out more about the research that is happening where you live and to ask researchers about all the things that are of interest to you,” said Lena Söderström, the national coordinator of ForskarFredag at VA (Public & Science).
In Sweden, events will be run in cities around the country from Luleå in the north to Lund in the south. Activities include shows, talks, hands-on experiments, guided tours and exhibitions where members of the public can meet researchers face-to-face. Specific programmes for schools allow pupils to discuss issues with Sweden’s top researchers, develop their scientific skills by playing investigatory games, or even borrow a researcher to visit their school.
In light of this year’s ‘space’ theme, ForskarFredag is also collaborating with Sweden’s Day and Night of Astronomy, which is taking place on the same weekend.
Researchers’ Grand Prix – science communications in short
Regional heats of the Researchers’ Grand Prix will also be taking place during ForskarFredag. The competition challenges researchers to present their research in as simple, inspirational and educational a way as possible, in just four minutes. This week, researchers in Borås, Helsingborg, Karlshamn, Skövde, Stockholm and Västerås will be competing for a place in the final in Stockholm on 26 November. A public audience votes to select the winner together with a jury.
The Star-Spotting Experiment – helping researchers to map light pollution
Each year, ForskarFredag also runs a citizen research project whereby school pupils and members of the public get to help researchers carry out real research. In this year’s the Star-Spotting Experiment, schools, scout groups as well as individuals in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and Spain are helping Urban Eriksson, a researcher at Kristianstad and Lund Universities to map light pollution by counting stars in the night sky. Tens of thousands of people have already registered and everyone is encouraged to join in too!