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Public Engagement at Manchester

Engagement@Manchester – 26 June 2019, 1-2pm with Ellen Dowell, creative producer of science engagement

Join us for our next Engagement@Manchester session with Ellen Dowell, creative producer of science engagement, as we explore Einstein’s Garden: Reflections on Creative Engagement with Science.

26 June 2019, 1-2pm, Michael Smith Building (lecture theatre at entrance), followed by light refreshments and informal networking.

In 2015, the Green Man Festival’s Einstein’s Garden began a Wellcome funded Society Award to experiment with new approaches to creative science engagement. At the end of this award, 12 projects have been produced in partnership with four universities, involving dozens of researchers and in collaboration with creative practitioners including sand sculptors, performers, sound designers, textile artists, architects and puppeteers. These 12 projects have engaged audiences at the Green Man and in many other cultural contexts, including a playground, a city farm, a beach, a market, a beer festival, a book festival and an agricultural show.

This session is an opportunity to discover what learning came out of the Einstein’s Garden Society Award and to inspire your own ideas about creative engagement with science.

Ellen Dowell is a creative producer of science engagement. She works part-time for Imperial College’s National Heart and Lung Institute where she produces a creative engagement programme called The Curious Act. From 2009 until March this year, she worked for the Green Man Festival, establishing, managing, curating and producing Einstein’s Garden, the science, nature and environment area of the festival.

All welcome to this best practice session. No registration required.

Do get in touch if you have any queries.

Dee-Ann Johnson, Public Engagement Manager, Office for Social Responsibility, The University of Manchester, 0161 306 3231, Twitter: @uomengage

Join us for our final Engagement@Manchester session for this academic year

Community Engagement: Empowering Young People, featuring special guest Ruth Ibegbuna – Wednesday 16 May, 13.00 – 14.30, Discovery Centre, Manchester Museum

Ruth Ibegbuna, is the Founder of RECLAIM, building on her successful teaching career to develop innovative strengths-based work which enables young people to achieve their potential. RECLAIM is a youth leadership and social change charitable organisation. Ruth was listed in The Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK, in The Debrett’s 500 in 2016. She was also listed by Virgin and Ashoka as one of the top six female change makers internationally.

In this Engage@Manchester session, Ruth will be talking about and answering questions around empowering young people, working side by side with them to build a fairer future. She is an expert in encouraging young people to believe in their inherent abilities and to demand the best for themselves and their lives.

Following the talk, join us for cake and coffee. If you only make it to one engagement@manchester shared learning session this year – then make it this one – for a healthy dash of inspiring engagement practice.

No need to book. Drop in.

More about engagement@manchester can be found here:

Social innovation skills share

Do you have expertise in social innovation or experience of community-university partnerships? Or are you keen to learn more about these approaches? LAST CHANCE TO SUBMIT WORKSHOPS OR CASE STUDIES

Join the NCCPE on Thursday 31 May to explore ‘what works’ in this important but challenging area. The event will run from 10:30 to 15:30 at NCVO in London.

The event is aimed at people who are keen to learn about the different ways community-university partnerships can be developed to realise social innovation. You may be community partner keen to work more closely with universities; a public engagement professional working in a university setting; a researcher keen to explore new methods and ways of working; or a funder, keen to understand better how to invest in productive projects.

An important backdrop for the event is a HEFCE funded pilot project (2016-17) to stimulate social innovation, which the NCCPE helped to coordinate. As this activity draws to a close, the NCCPE is keen to invite interested parties to join us to explore ‘what works’ in social innovation.

Find out more, submit a proposal to host a workshop or case study, and register for the event: www.publicengagement.ac.uk/whats-new/events/social-innovation-skills-share

For any enquiries, please contact lisa.adlington@uwe.ac.uk

Impact and research partnerships: E@M lunchtime session, 7 Feb 2018, 13.00 drop-in

We are delighted to announce that the next Engagement@Manchester lunchtime share session will take place on Wednesday 7 February 2018.

Drop-in and listen to colleagues who share their experiences of impact and research partnerships. Join a discussion on the current context on public engagement and REF2021 and discover what expertise and support is available to build research partnerships.

TITLE: Impact and research partnerships

WHEN: 7 February, 13.00-14.30

WHERE: Room 3-210, University Place


  • Dr Sarah Marie Hall (School of Social Sciences) – Everyday Austerity project (winner of the inaugural Jo Cox Prize for Public Service and Active Citizenship)
  • Dr Emmanuel Pinteaux (Division of Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology) – Stroke, Self and Brain workshops in partnership with The Stroke Association

Followed by discussion and information concerning:

  • Current context around impact and public engagement – UOM and REF2021
  • Internal expertise and support to build research partnerships.

All welcome!

Judith Gracey & Rachel Kenyon, Research & Business Engagement Support Services

Engagement Matters: Evaluating your public engagement

In this Engagement Matters post, Suzanne Spicer shares her top tips for evaluating the success of your public engagement activities.

Evaluation can be perceived as a daunting task but when used correctly, it is an effective tool to reflect on and improve your public engagement activities, and to determine the value and worth of evidenced impact.

How to start: Whenever possible you should plan your evaluation when you are planning your public engagement activity. Begin by considering why you are undertaking the evaluation. It is important to be clear of your purpose right from the start.

Write an evaluation plan: To keep focused have an evaluation plan, a step-by-step guide which summarises what you are going to do and how you will undertake the process.
Top tip: keep things simple.

Include the following in your evaluation plan:

1. Aims and objectives
Your aims are what you want to achieve overall and your objectives are how you will achieve your aims. It is important to keep them SMART so ask yourself:
Specific: do they state what will you do and with whom?
Measurable: can you measure their success?
Achievable: do you have enough time and resources to achieve them?
Relevant: do they meet your aims?
Time-bound: do they include timescales?
Top tip: only have one or two aims and up to five objectives.

2. Audience and stakeholders
It is important to identify who will be involved in your evaluation and what challenges may arise when engaging with them.
Top tip: if appropriate, involve the public in your planning.

3. Evaluation questions
These are the questions you want answers to. They should not only measure outputs (the results of your activity) but also outcomes (eg. an increase in awareness, the development of skills or a change in behaviour/practice).
Top tip: have between 2-6 questions and ensure they relate to the evidence you can collect.

4. Collecting evidence
Think creatively about how you will gather your data and how you might build it into your activity, so that it is easy for you to collect, and your public want to engage. There are a variety of methods you can use from the more traditional such as questionnaires to more creative methods such as graffiti walls or using a voting app. You do not have to evaluate everyone and everything – you can sample. Also remember to capture perspectives from everyone involved (including yourself). And if you are measuring impact then it is important to create a baseline from which you can evidence any change.
Top tip: if you are engaging with a new audience, look for advice from other sectors.

Whichever method you use, you will have to ask questions. Use a mixture of open (ask for open-ended responses) or closed questions (give a series of options for the participant to select) and ensure your questions are clear and easy to understand. Check that none are leading or biased and try to avoid asking people to predict their behaviour too far into the future. Also avoid asking multiple questions in one.
Top tip: test your questions out beforehand.

5. Analysing your evaluation data
Decide how much data you want to collect and how much time and capacity you will have available to analyse it. With quantitative data (numbers) you can use a spreadsheet to analyse your data. With qualitative data (words and images) you can group similar responses into categories that can then be counted and reported or expressed as a percentage.
Top tip: you can use audience quotes to illustrate points but check they are representative and give a balanced perspective.

6. Using your findings
Once you have analysed your data then you should interpret what you have found. List your key findings both positive and negative and link them to your evaluation questions and critically reflect on what you have learned.

7. Sharing your learning
Finally, think about how you will use and share your findings. Identify your key audience and who else might be interested and which formats you might use, such as a report or an infographic. Whatever platform you use, be clear about your key messages and share what you have learnt, both the positive and negative.

Some useful resources
You can find some useful evaluation links and resources here.

See also: Suzanne Spicer, The nuts and bolts of evaluating science communication activities, Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, Volume 70, October 2017, pp. 17-25 available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1084952117304494

Posted on behalf of Suzanne Spicer FRSA, Social Responsibility Manager, Office for Social Responsibility, The University of Manchester

Twitter: @UoMEngage | @csusies | #EngageMatters

Engagement Matters: Developing Table Top Science Activities

In this Engagement Matters post Sheena shares her six top tops developing a table top science activity.

There are lots of things to think about if you want to create a successful table top activity. Before you do this it may help to go (or help at) an event in which there are a variety of table tops activities to see what you think works and what you think does not work so well. Also do look at what happens in museums, visitor centres, exhibition spaces and galleries as often there will be examples of excellent practice there.

These are my six top tips for making a good table top activity.

1: Purpose: What is the purpose of your activity – what do you want people to take away from the activity? Do you, for example, want to share a research mechanism and therefore develop a game or prop to visualise this or initiate discussion and raise awareness about the field of research you are in? Always consider your purpose before going any further as it will help shape everything including helping you plan evaluation.

2: Audience: Who is the target audience that your activity is aimed at? One activity will not necessarily suit all ages so consider what is age appropriate and likely to hold interest. Can you trial the activity with someone else first – friends or family just to see if it works? I have used my children as guinea pigs for many of my activities and believe me friends and family can be amongst your harshest critics! On the plus side, my children know quite a lot about parasites now – a fact for which I am sure they are grateful…

3: The “Hook” and Levels of Engagement: Often it is helpful to have different levels of engagement to hold your audience. Ideally you will have a hook that draws people to your stand – this may be something eye-catching or something that resonates with people perhaps because it is relevant to them (the words eye-catching, relevance and resonance are important to consider when planning your “hook”). However, a hook is not enough to keep people involved and ideally you want a longer more meaningful engagement. So what games or activities do you have? If the activities are for children is there something for the parents too? Often this may be you yourself talking through the science and its importance and relevance. If you are struggling to come up with a hook or suitable games then do brainstorm with other colleagues, students and helpers.

Disclaimer: Do not necessarily use posters! I have put this in bold as many researchers are used to displaying information in poster format and therefore default to that. However, lots of small pictures, too many words and jargon are quite frankly off putting. In fact, so off putting can “the poster” be, I have found that some institutions have a blanket policy that does not allow you to display posters in an event. However posters can be a great way to frame your activity if used appropriately – either by using them as a screen to separate your activity from others or as an information source. So, if you DO use posters, ensure they are focused on key messages and use plenty of big, attractive images. Are there analogies you can use to help the message come over? Also consider where you place the poster – if posters are behind you then how can people read them-consider the size of text and where you place the key messages if the posters are to be placed behind you. I have previously put posters on the floor and found many people stopped to read them than perhaps would have looked at posters on the wall.

4: Flow through: This may seem obvious but ideally you want to structure the activity so you have a clear logical flow through of people. You may have your hook then for example encourage participants to move along the table or tables where your next activity (and perhaps another helper is poised) and so on. It is worth taking a little time to consider this as good flow through can really improve the activity.

5: Take home message: What is your take home message – what do you want people to leave with? Is there something they can take away with them to do at home or find out more info? Again, worth planning at the outset.

6: Evaluation: Last but not least – how will you evaluate the success of the activity? Has it worked for both you and the people you wished to reach? If you know the purpose (step 1) it is much easier to know what you will evaluate. I suggest, in the first instance you keep evaluation relatively simple. You can even see if you can build part of the evaluation into the activity so it is part of the fun. There is excellent guidance on evaluation through engagement@manchester here.

I hope these tips will help you plan your activity. Have fun and good luck! Do remember that all the best activities have been crafted from lots of trials, so don’t worry if not all elements of your activity come together – they may need refining to get them just perfect for your next event.

See related posts:

Dr Sheena Cruickshank, Academic Lead for Public Engagement, The University of Manchester

Twitter: @UoMEngage | @sheencr | #EngageMatters