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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"
"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.