Showcase your work at the Summer Science Exhibition

The Exhibition features the UK’s most inspiring research and is a chance for scientists to showcase their work to over 14,000 people, including everyone from school children and families to MPs and Fellows of the Royal Society. Exhibitors are supported throughout the process and get dedicated support, advice and guidance from our Exhibition team.

It’s a great event to be part of, but as our motto (Nullius in verba) urges, don’t take our word for it. A 2019 exhibitor said: “One of the most enjoyable and satisfying outreach opportunities that I have ever taken part in. The range of background of visitor is so wide that almost each encounter brings up something new.”

Our call for proposals closes on 10 September 2019 and the Exhibition will run from 6 – 12 July 2020.

If you are interested in finding out more or applying, please visit our website: https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2019/summer-science-exhibition/proposals/

Please direct all enquiries to exhibition@royalsociety.org.

Posted on behalf of David Chapman, Assistant Public Engagement Manager, The Royal Society

Whitworth Art Gallery Thursday Lates – Call for proposals

Do you have an idea that brings art, people and ideas together and think it would make a great Thursday Late event at the Whitworth Art Gallery?

Fill in our #ThursdayLates proposal form here: http://ow.ly/pWsS30pm9ZU

What are Thursday Lates?
A series of sociable, after work and late openings that are the perfect place to meet up with friends, explore the gallery and enjoy a specially curated selection of talks, performances, film screenings, live music and artist interventions. Thursdays, 6-9pm.

Calling all scientists and engineers – looking to engage new audiences with your research?

Wonder Match Manchester – Tuesday 8 October, at Bridge 5 Mill.

Are you a scientist or engineer who would like to engage with new audiences with your research?

There is funding available to help this happen! Come to a Wonder Match event to find out more…

Wonder Match provides an opportunity to find out how you could access up to £15,000 for projects that support diverse audiences to engage with STFC-related science and technology. This event will be a chance to hear from the funders, find out about the STFC Spark Award, and meet potential project partners from community organisations.

You will also have the chance to apply for up to £1000 of ‘thinking funding’ to help you establish and develop community partnerships that could strengthen your Spark Award application.

Find out more and apply here: https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/wonder-match

Posted on behalf of Dr Neville Hollingworth, Public Engagement Manager, Science and Technology Facilities Council
E: Neville.hollingworth@stfc.ac.uk

Call for sustainability activities for the Festival of Manchester 31 August

Public engagement opportunity with the Science and Industry Museum

Festival of Manchester – Saturday 31 August, Platt Fields Park
This one day festival of music, food, sport, crafts and culture began in Platt Fields Park, Manchester in 2018, when it was attended by over 10,000 people. The festival organisers have shown a keen interest in having content related to sustainability and climate change, so we are looking for activities on this theme. As a major cultural organisation in the city, the museum will be attending this year and encouraging the festival’s diverse family audience to engage with contemporary STEM content.

What we’re looking for
We’re looking for a group of volunteers that could deliver 1-3 family friendly activities on our stand at the festival – exact timings are tbc but are expected to be 12pm-6pm.
Activities should be as hands-on and interactive as possible, and could include live experiments, make and takes, games or demonstrations.

What we can provide
We are able to provide lunch and travel expenses to all researchers taking part.
Museum staff will also be present at the event to help engage festival attendees and to support with the smooth running of the stand.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, please get in touch with Georgina Wells (Contemporary Science Programme Coordinator) by Thursday 8 August.
Georgina.wells@scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk
Tel: 0161 6967786

Policy Internships Scheme – Applications closes 12 August 2019

The Policy Internships Scheme provides the opportunity for doctoral students funded by the research councils of UK Research and Innovation to work for three months in one of a selected group of highly influential policy organisations.

Students undertaking an internship through the Scheme will work on one or more policy topics relevant to both the student and their host organisation. They will be expected to produce at least one briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event, or equivalent piece of work.

The call closes on 12th August 2019.

Information on how to apply along with further details on host partners, funding and eligibility can be found here:
https://www.ukri.org/skills/policy-internships-scheme/

Engagement Matters: Standing up for Science

In this Engagement Matters post, Joan Chang, a postdoctoral research scientist in the Division of Cell Matrix Biology & Regenerative Medicine, shares her experience of attending a Standing up for Science workshop and encourages other scientists to engage with the media to help combat misinformation.

Do you remember the last time a news headline made you roll your eyes? “Yeah, sure, another cure for cancer. It’s not that simple!”
A fear-mongering statement overheard at the pub, so irritating you almost spoke up to the person making it? “No, the Large Hadron Collider won’t create a black hole! Also, vaccines work!”
Or an extrapolation so tenuous that made you sigh internally? “Eh, Fast Radio Bursts do not equal alien life …”

It’s easy to brush these off as small everyday irritations that scientists simply have to endure. But these are phenomena that are so much more than that. These are signs that the public are misinformed about fundamental scientific theories or important discoveries, and unless scientists address this head-on, the chasm is only going to widen between “scientists” and “the public”; it is vital that scientists clear up any misunderstanding, and build trust and support from the public.

A great way to build up this trust is to directly engage with the public, help them understand what we actually do, and explain the importance (and coolness) of science. However, while it’s a highly rewarding experience – think wide-eyed wondrous expression on a child’s face, or “Wow, really?!” exclamations from adults – it is logistically impossible for us to directly engage with everyone. This is where the media comes in. Media plays a huge part in bridging the general public with scientific community, as they have a far wider reach than the average scientist, and possess the skills to make a story have a lasting impression. Thus, having the ability to work with the people behind media, be it journalists, podcasters, or in general content creators, is an invaluable skill for scientists. We want the media to be on our side, to keep having an interest and curiosity in what we’re doing, and perhaps most importantly, present what we’re doing in a factual yet interesting manner.

If you haven’t realised yet, I’m trying to persuade would-be science ambassadors to step up and participate in more public engagement and media outreach. A good starting point is participating in workshops like Voice of Young Science: Standing up for Science, organised by Sense about Science. These are free workshops that allow scientists to interact with different panels of experts (i.e. media, policy, science communication), actively discuss any burning questions, thereby dispelling any misconceptions. It provides a rare opportunity for scientists to step outside of our work area, and see things from a completely different perspective. After all, it isn’t every day that you get to talk with one of the people involved in the controversial badger-culling policy! And did you know that there is a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in Westminster?

As someone who has been involved in many public engagement events like Pint of Science and after-school science clubs, one of the (many) interesting aspects of the workshop is the art of how to sell your science to media. Scientists are trained to write up our scientific findings as “hypothesis, objectives, methods, results, discussion, conclusion”, to explain very carefully how we arrive at a specific conclusion, and make sure we don’t make sweeping statements. But in order to grab people’s attention, it’s the opposite. We need to state our conclusion first in a way that fits into a bigger picture, and condense all those technical work into (hopefully) emotion-evoking and relatable science. I thought naïvely that due to my outreach experience, I could explain my science in layman terms quite well. Yeah, well, after chatting with the media panel, it is painfully obvious that I need to be more succinct and find the key words that can hook the audience in. On the flip side, it was fascinating to find out that policymakers highly value input from scientists, but again it is most effective if presented succinctly, for example in bullet points, and you highlight what you want them to do with the information (hint: “more money for research” is not useful. “Change *insert specific policy* to help research” is way better).

I believe that the training provided by workshops like these will allow scientists to talk about their research in a more confident manner, and present their work in an appropriate fashion, a.k.a. hitting that sweet spot of being engaging without being condescending. Personally, I am keeping up to date with Voice of Young Science (and so can you!) through Twitter: @voiceofyoungsci and Facebook, and by signing up to the newsletter. So, go forth, attend a workshop, and start your journey as a science communicator to the layman, be it directly with the public, through a media platform, or by influencing policies.

Joan is a postdoctoral research scientist at The University of Manchester, deep into matrix biology (i.e. collagens) and circadian rhythms (i.e. body clock). She is also a Sci-Art/Sci-comm promoter, ultimate frisbee-r, whisky aficionado, and lover of jam-packed schedules.

Twitter:  @UoMEngage #EngageMatters