CORDIS - EU research results

Light Night

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Light Night (Light Night)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2015-10-31

Light Night coincided with the UNESCO Year of Light 2015, it will bring together the Aston Institute of Photonics Technology (AIPT), Aston University, with the Library of Birmingham and Community Arts Group, the Flatpack Film Festival, to deliver an afternoon and evening of public facing content, informed by EC funded research, to raise the enormous importance of photonics research to local schools, community groups and library visitors.
Light Night was designed to engage adults and young people to enable them to identify the importance of light in their lives. Light Night celebrated the research of light, the application of light, and the way in which light is central to human society, pleasure and health. But Light Night went beyond engineering to engage the worlds of Education and the Arts.
The Night has left a legacy of art, impact and education at all community levels of the importance of photonics, and the significance of the work that Aston University is leading to address future challenges to photonics impact on our lives.
The Light Night presented to the general public how photonics impacts the citizens' everyday life and what researchers do in the laboratories from light science to photonics technology.
The event provided an opportunity to show how broad photonics research is, covering topics from astrophysics and structure of our universe to DNA structure and links between light and life. Light Night made a powerful and contemporary appeal to heart and mind. For anyone who has admired a rainbow, downloaded a favourite video, benefitted from laser eye correction, or stopped to think about the application of light in science, Light Night proved a valuable concept.
Tasks undertaken / Target audiences
o Public at large regardless of age and scientific background, i.e. all citizens of the Greater Birmingham, in particular those not part of the Higher Education community;
o Special attention to be paid to young people of school and university age especially those aged from 10 to 13 who might be making choices about careers and further/higher education;
o Also particular attention to citizens from disadvantaged communities and minority ethnic groups;

Messages conveyed
o Researchers are amongst us;
o Researchers are ordinary people with an extraordinary job;
o Researchers are doing impactful work in the city, which benefits all citizens;
o Researchers are not just people who work in isolation, they are interested in what citizens are interested in;
o Researchers are people like you and me, from all backgrounds and with a wide range of talents, they are not stereotypical scientists in white coat;
o Research is fun, engaging and applicable;
o It’ worth funding research;
o It’s worth attending Researchers’ night, you don’t need to be a scientists yourself;
o Young people will find a career as a researcher more varied than you think, from building lasers to building broadband capacity, to helping medical breakthroughs, all this and more;
Main communication tools to rely on
Off line
o Publication of articles, announcements, advertising in several press media such as Birmingham mail, weekly Birmingham Post, Metro West Midlands, magazine “what’s on in Birmingham”;
o Airing of promotional spots, interviews, programmes on BBC TV WM (via science correspondent) and Capital Radio (addressing adults and teens);
o Intensive P.R. campaign ;
o Launch of pictures competition;
o Set up of light installations and projections on campus buildings;
o Mailing based on British Science Festival database;
o Display of promotional material;
On line
o Setting up of a special page on the university website;
o Use of the social and digital media university’s channels (Facebook, Twitter, My Aston Mobile App, Instagram), which will be “taken over” by early career researchers one week prior to the event;
o Links with Pantha partner media and with the network of contacts via Rough Trade;
o Links with Aston Villa football club for joint social media activities to reach fans;
Promotional material
o Written promotional materials such as folders, brochures, programmes, posters…;
o Banners, ads, websites, links etc.;
o Mention of "This European Researchers' Night project is funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions" on all promotional material displayed;
o Promotional gadgets (displayed through the European corner notably), complying with the general guidelines available at
Overview of the results
o Conception, realisation and display of promotional material: postcards of various types, programme overview magazine, floor guides, plans, posters of various formats, balloons, stickers, pop up banners, T-shirts,
o Sending of invitations to primary and secondary schools;
o Public advertising
o Promotion of the event during other public events, such as Big Bang 2015, The Big Bang Near Me;
o Pre-events:
o Addressing local schools and community groups;
o School based elctures and workshops;
o 3D shark on display at Aston University campus.
o Setting up, constant udpating and maintenance of project website namely (programme overview and on-line booking facilities);
o 11.000 individual visits on website by 25th September;
o Links with the International Year of Light (IYOL) Website, ;
o Covering of the event on about 20 whats on websites;
o Setting up of social network profiles (Twitter);
o Over 70 tweets from various authors on Twitter about Lightfest;
o About 20.000 people made aware of the Researchers' Night and its objectives.

Tasks undertaken
List of locations and venues involved
Birmingham, Library of Birmingham, Centenary square, on 10 floors, symphony hall foyer area (orienteering in the Library ensured by Aston student volunteers)
Main types of activities planned
Hands-on experiments, demonstrations, lectures, talks and chats with researchers, workshops, performances and EU corner;
Detailed programme of activities
Common theme: light and all its applications, after the UNESCO international year of Light in 2015;
o Laser engraver
o LED Cube: with a total of 5.120 leds, the LED Cube is super bright from every direction! While also being a video player, the LED Cube can be interactive and fun for everyone!
o Biophotonics for wellbeing and healthy life: see a laser used for non-invasive monitoring of the human physiological parameters at the fingertip. Anyone can try her/himself for blood microcirculation, tissue oxygen saturation, and metabolism efficiency valuation spending just 3-5 min her/his time. In parallel we demonstrate main principles of optical non-invasive diagnostic devices and their application for human wellbeing and health life support.
o Colour mixing: introduction to light, learning how to bend, bounce and blend light with three high-tech light sources, lenses, mirrors and an activity guide full of fun and learning.
o Fibre fuse effect or “Tiny Comet”: the fibre fuse effect is a problem in modern fibre optics telecommunication systems, however, it can make for a stunningly beautiful show! If a fibre is locally heated to a temperature of 1000C, the laser radiation propagating through the fibre is strongly absorbed by the heated part, increasing its temperature to 104 K. This high-temperature region, seen as a bright white spot, which looks like a comet moving with a velocity of 1 m/s along the fibre.
o Magic Mirror: visual display of how a two-way mirror can be used as an interactive screen.
o 3D Vision: a passive 3D image created using two monitors and mirrors carefully placed, slideshow of photos of places around Birmingham used to demonstrate 3D vision
o Mood Lamp: visual display of how combining the 3 primary colours can create a wide range of different colours, looking at the figures of some of the most important buildings in Birmingham with very suggestive lighting beneath
o Light and gummy bears: use of gummy bears and laser boxes for investigating basic concepts of light interactions;
o How can a a Lego robot recognise colours? Use of Lego Mindstorms robots with colours sensors installed, teaches how sensor colours work and which colours reflect different percentage of light ;
o Make a blinking robot card: use of a special electrically conductive paint pen for painting a circuit with a LED , battery and switch to make a greeting card;
o Diffractive optics: some hands-on experience to see how tiny things make a huge difference!
o Mix your own colours: a closer look at the screen of your smartphone or a printed newspaper. Why a picture can be constructed of a mosaic of tiny points of only three colours?
o Laser microscope: discovering what lurks in Birmingham canal water with a laser pointer. A simple set up turns a drop of pond water into a spherical lens to make visible the tiny world within. The effect is dramatic and makes an engaging introduction to lenses and geometric optics.
o Virtual reality with Google cardboard: how a regular smartphone display can be used to trick your brain into seeing 3D images. A range of 3D video demos that are quite simply amazing.
o Laser harp: this exciting laser harp is played by blocking individual laser beams which triggers notes on a synthesizer.
o Interactive LED wall: this demonstration uses infrared sensors to track motion to allow you create beautiful patterns on a LED wall with your hands and body.
o Sound modulated onto a laser beam: data is being transmitted over laser beams. Activity to play music from a phone over a laser beam and play it back using a solar panel and speaker.
o Virtual pottery wheel: Visually appealing demonstration that uses a leap motion to create and edit a virtual pottery wheel. Showcases the importance of infrared technology
o Musical Bench: musical “instrument” with user interaction, two or more people holdings hands touch the touchpads and music will be played accordingly
o How thick is your hair: use of diffraction and a Laser box for a known wave length, allowing learning about laser diffraction which measures very small things;
o How to make a laser: participants make their own laser using a combination of devices provided by the event, gaining experience of the practical engineering behind laser infrastructure;
o How can a Lego robot recognise colours: Lego Mindstorms robots are using installed colour sensors to recognise colours and play different notes for different colours. The participants asked to arrange coloured Lego bricks to play a melody.
o Make a flashing greeting card: using a special electrically conductive paint pen, participants are able to paint a special circuit with an LED, battery and switch to make a greeting card with blinking LED.
o Sola light painting: Sola is an artist and photographer who creates amazing images using just a camera, a tripod and a light source (no Photoshop involved!). In this hands-on 20-minute session participants learn how to use long exposures to create your own light graffiti.
o Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, BBC The Sky at Night: “Five most amazing photos taken by Hubble space telescope!”
o Professor Andrew Ellis, Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies: “Making light work of the internet”
o Professor Alessandro Farini, CNR-National Institute of Optics and University of Florence “Light and art: an indivisible relationship”
o Professor William O’Neill “Working at the Speed of Light”
o Dr Greg Lynall, University of Liverpool “The Pen is mightier than the Laser? The Power of Light in Literature, Art and Culture”
Library of Birmingham, Lightbox: throughout the day we were screening a selection of short films for all ages on the theme of light. Included brilliant animation from Japanese collective Tochka, and award-winning short Luminaris about a romance in a lightbulb factory.
o Frequency Response by the Artist in resident, Chris Plant;
o 3D artwork, the Capacity Crunch;
o Andrew Chappell, Light Matter;
o Maxwell Torch;
European corner
Number: One;
Location: prominent place in the foyer of the Library;
Activities planned:
o Display of informative and promotional material;
o Witnesses from researchers and MC fellows about benefiting from a EU grant and research mobility;
o Demonstration and presentation about EU-funded research projects;
o Permanent presence of researcher from Aston Centre for Europe, as well as of European Funding Manager able to answer any audience’s question related to EU programmes and policies;
o Invitation of some Parliament members;
o European Researchers' Night MSCA roll-up (entrance of the event) complying with the following content and format requirements: 200 X 85 cm, and the mentions: "European Researchers' Night", "Marie Skłodowska-Curie: an inspiration to follow";
o An image provided by the European Commission;
Overview of the results
o Offer of activities as described in the Annex I part B to the Gran Agreement, namely:
o 34 demonstrations and hands-on activities;
o 5 workshops running each hour;
o 5 talks;
o Active involvement of 100 researchers and 33 extra volunteers involved in the implementation of the activities, amongst which:
o 15 Researchers having benefitted from Marie Curie schemes;
o 20 Researchers having benefitted from another EU support, including Collaborative grants (current and past) recipients, ERC Advanced Grant recipients and team, ESF PoC recipients;
o 12.500 visitors having taken part in the activities offered.
Tasks undertaken
Description of the current situation
o Benchmarks (2) to be established in January and June 2015 under the form of a quantitative survey jointly organised by BCC, Aston University and using socio economic and demographic segmentation;
o Existing surveys and studies still to be identified;
o Questionnaires including questions related to awareness about research, place where it is carried out, funding sources, purpose, impact on society, visibility of the research community in the city, creation of awareness, rank of importance of research compared to other work of public benefit…;
o Qualitative focus groups created in June 2015: images associated with the word researcher, scientists, scientific researcher, who the researcher might be, age gender, ethnicity, meeting with researchers… and repeated the enquiry after the events;
o Reward of participants to focus groups;
o Google analytics, Facebook and social followership and engagement, media coverage, on line polling, press clippings;
Indicators and parameters to be applied
o For assessing the success of the action: number of attendees, rating of the event, participation in various activities, hits on the website, friends and followers on social networks, views of the streaming activities, videos uploaded on YouTube, number of promotional items displayed, media coverage;
o For assessing the possible impact regarding public perception of researchers: public opinion on researchers and their job, (association with “researcher”, characteristics of actual researchers, of desired researchers, interest expressed for science and research, interest expressed in science careers, typology of attendees, intention to take part in future similar events, involvement of researchers funded by HORIZON 2020, including MSCA actions;
Overview of the results
o Collection, analysis and processing of 80 feedbacks;
o Main conclusions:
o Typology of visitors:49,4 % male and 50,6 % female amongst responders, 52,5 % responder students, about 33 % pupils from secondary schools or teachers, 18,8 % interested in science matters, majority aged 18-25(over 52 %), aged 31-40 11,3 %, 51-60 11 %, over 60 11,3 %, vast majority (66 %) coming from
Birmingham, 15 % from surrounding area, 16,3 % from elsewhere in the UK and 2,5 % from outside UK,
o Knowledge about the event: word of mouth (student, contacts with schools and colleges): about 70 %, website 20 % and written promotional material 16,3 %;
o Overall positive feedback about the event (activities, interest, contacts with researchers, concrete organisation, scheduling, venues);
o Event found informative (over 89 %), entertaining (over 83 %), engaging (over 78 %) and useful (over 75 %);
o Some possible improvements suggested by the audience: signposting, more interactivity and reactivity of researchers involved;
o Most successful activities: difficult to assess since this event was the first in Birmingham, probably interactive activities are preferred by the audience;
o Less successful activities: cancellation of "the Pantha du prince"(too short of resources), cancellation of one planned lecture due to the move of the speaker to the UK EU Referendum Team for the UK Government;
o Impact on public image of researchers and their work and impact on interest for scientific careers, in particular amongst young people: majority of kids and teenagers were genuinely interested in demonstrations and scientific explanations behind them;
o Possible improvements, although this first shot already proved very successful:
o Greater involvement of the Aston University School Liaison Team, notably with a view to targeting more numerous schools;
o More support and matching funds from the Library of Birmingham;
o Greater focus on voluntary and community group attendance, which proved extremely difficult;
o Specific difficulty encountered due to the date, since the event clashed with the opening of a vast department store, a flagship store for the UK, and an important Rugby World cup game hosted on Birmingham, making the media mobilisation rather difficult.