CORDIS - EU research results

Researcher's Night: meeting science and your next door scientist

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - REN-ATHENS (Researcher's Night: meeting science and your next door scientist)

Reporting period: 2014-12-01 to 2015-10-31

The REN-ATHENS European Researchers’ Night in 2015 was conceived, launched and implemented by a broad team of experts in scientific research and science communication from leading Research Institutes and Educational Organizations, located in the Athens Metropolitan area.
The main purpose of the project consisted of conveying to the general public the following key ideas:
o Research is a necessary ingredient for progress;
o Researchers are an integral part of the community and
o Their profession is both fun, challenging, interesting and worth pursuing.
In such a context, the work of Greek scientists was showcased with a view to stressing the need of scientific and technological breakthroughs leading to inventions and opportunities that benefit society in many ways.
A broad range of activities was proposed around the overall theme “Science invites People” at the premises of the Hellenic World Foundation, a very well equipped outreach center for exhibitions of science and art, for the event in September 2015.
Amongst the proposed activities may be listed: hands-on experiments, demonstrations, simulations, show and tell stands, science shows, science theatre, science talks, music by researchers and students, display of movies, scientific and artistic exhibitions, using art to convey science, chats and discussions with researchers, presentations and lectures, European corner…
Several scientific domains were covered which allowed pointing out the benefits of Interdisciplinarity; not only an intensive awareness campaign was launched, but pre-events were also proposed and “satellite events” took place in Rhodes, Corinth and Pylos, where participating Institutions have satellite installations, so as to maximize impact and reach.
In the main event more than 8.000 visitors enjoyed the world of science and interacted with scientists in an ideal environment close to the heart of Athens.
Tasks undertaken
Target audiences:
o Public at large regardless of age and scientific background;
o Special attention to be paid to kids and young people, especially those facing or about to face a career choice;
o People involved in different aspects of the public understanding of science;
Messages conveyed:
o Researchers are amongst us;
o Researchers are ordinary people with an extraordinary job;
o Research can take you everywhere;
o Research is fun and fascinating;
o Research makes citizens’ lives better;
o Europe cares for its researchers and research;
o Communication of science is a important for both researchers and the society;
Main communication tools to rely on:
Off line
o Publication of articles, interviews, announcements, advertisements, in national and regional newspapers and magazines;
o Publication of various press releases addressed to all written media channels (newspapers and magazines);
o Airing of promotional spots, interviews, announcements, programmes on radio stations;
o Display of promotional material in schools (cooperation with Ministry of Education for scheduling school visits during the event);
o Promotion of the event through other public events such as visits to telescope observations (Penteli telescope, NOA), promotion at the Athens Science Festival, visits to Demokritos and the other Research centers, visits to HCMR aquaria in Rhodes and Crete...);
o Launch of competitions:
o Organization of a photography competition for the International Year of Light, themed “Light in Science, Light in Life";
o Launch a Researcher’s Song competition with songs related to scientific research;
o “The computer of the future” painting competition, organized by RC “Athena”
o Cooperation with National Centres for Career Orientation aimed at including the Night in their agenda and displaying promotional material via their channels;
Organisation of several pre-events:
o Astronomy (NOA): hill of Nymphs, (opposite the Acropolis), NOA headquarters, 2 weeks before the event;
o Children’s event (NHRF): short lectures and hands-on experiments on research as a means for improving both understanding and everyday life, sample molecular being given as a souvenir (in 2015 : theme: research is possible for everyone including kids with special needs);
o “Hackathon” type event (ATHENA): interactive activities, workshops, demonstrations and experiments in specially set-up areas of the premises and in the labs of “Athena” RC, presentation of projects to kids under the form of games, communication with robots, contest and exhibition, ..;
o Socialising with scientists: on tennis, football and basketball courts on NCSR campus, science related treasure hunt, organized visits to Demokritos labs , together with neighbouring municipalities;
o Guided visits to Rhodes and Crete aquaria ;
o Scientific exhibition, amongst which "CSI science» by the cooperating Hellenic Pasteur Institute.
On line
o Revamping, and constant updating of the project website (displaying on a permanent basis science updates and newsfeeds);
o Links with participants’, institutional and popular websites;
o Updating of social networks profiles (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and links with partners’’ profiles;
o Sending of newsletters to all participants and subcontractors networks; The partners have long mailing lists used for all the events organized including GSRT, public and private schools as well as different partner research and organizations
o Publication on line of Interviews by partner institutions’ researchers;
Promotional material
o Flyers, posters, programmes…;
o Ads, banners, websites, links;
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 of promotional material: posters and banners of various formats, roll ups, programmes, invitations under the form of flyers and mailings, postcards, advertising balloons during pre-events, give away such as balloons displayed to the kids, pens , stickers, postcards…;
o Public advertising : banners on participants' premises, as well as in busy streets, display of teasing video in subway platforms (3 Athens metro lines) as well as display of promotional material in public and private schools, cafés, restaurants and participating institutions;
o Promotion during other public events such as Athens Science Festival (March 2015)(interactive exhibition) Demokritos Hellenic Forum for Science and Innovation, the 80th Thessaloniki International Fair, NOA Summer school of Astronomy, NOA special night;
o Airing of announcements/advertising /programmes/interviews on national and regional radio and TV stations:
o Sending of invitations sent to all public and private schools in Attica area, Ministry of Education, all universities, main partners' mailing lists;
o Pre events, notably in the various partners' premises, flash mobs, teasing activities:
o NOA astronomy: stargazing, air pollution workshop;
o NHRF: hands-on experiments, discussion with invited specialised speakers, journalists, science communicators…, drawing;
o HCMR Rhodes and Crete aquaria: presentation of recent projects and cruises, games, quizzes, paintings;
o Athena RC pre-event on informatics: communication with robots, presentations of gamified for kids scientific projects, painting exhibition;
o NCSR ‘Demokritos’: science and sports activities with students, biology treasure hunt;
o Hellenic Institute Pasteur, Athens: presentation of " science of CSI Science Theatre";
o Publication of over 20 press releases;
o Publication of articles, interviews, announcements, advertising in written press (newspapers, magazines both regional and national);
o Revamping and constant updating of project website, namely ;
o Links to popular and institutional websites as well as to social networks;
o 10.293 unique visitors and 39.941 page views during the month September 2015;
o Revamping and constant updating of social network profiles (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Hashtag);
o 1.767 likers on Facebook, over 18.000 users during the month September 2015, with picks during pre-events (up to 6.151 daily reach) and event itself (5.397 reach);
o 46.000 fans on British Council Greece's Facebook page;
o Over 500.000 people made aware of the Researchers’ Night and its objectives;

Tasks undertaken
List of locations and venues involved
o Athens: premises of the Foundation of the Hellenic World close to the city centre in 2015;
o Corinth: Cryoneri near Corinth, Corinth observatory;
o Pylos: Pylos installations for the multi cubic kilometre sized neutrino telescope project;
o Rhodes: hydrobiological station;
Main types of activities planned
Hands-on experiments, demonstrations, simulations, show and tell stands, science shows, display of movies, scientific and artistic exhibitions, using art to convey science, chats and discussions with researchers, presentations and lectures, European corner…
Detailed programme of activities:
o Hands- on experiments and exhibitions by teachers collaborating with NHRF in science communication;
o Alchemist Lab and go-food for thought;
o Seven talks on various science issues in FHW;
o Workshop about science-teaching;
o Interactive exhibitions: experimental DNA extraction voting game about favorite Nobel scientist, new model (reproduction) of the Antikythera mechanism;
o Mobile automated meteorological station (DAVIS type)(information about weather forecast models, the network of lightning activity monitoring of NOA (TALOS) and meteorological measurements);
o Network for monitoring seismicity in Greece, archiving and earthquake simulations;
o Activities of BEYOND European project about Natural disaster network;
o European campaign iSPEX-EU (or measuring air pollution with your smart phone);
Kids and young people activities:
o Interactive programme for young people about meteorological phenomena and water circle;
o Stargazing through NOA’s portable planetarium;
o Display of Tholos Dome 3 D FHW production on ancient Greece;
o Presentations and videos by ESA including interactive game (cooking a comet);
o On line seminar (over 100 teachers, special educators, psychologists, speech therapists and students on Evaluation and intervention/treatment of reading difficulties); Text to Speech synthesis system: Learn how the world’s best synthetic voice is made!
o Workshops: How a search engine can “read” texts, sounds and videos, home, sweet home! (house hearing and understanding), “computer of the future” with LEGO® bricks, "Balloon" online games and knowledge portal for kids;
o Creative games for experiencing digital technologies (Athena RC), creation of one's own crazy ball, chemistry of cooking;
o Activities by schoolchildren from the Greek Prototype and Experimental Schools, activities from the Greek Physical Society, the Greek Chemistry Society etc...
o Various workshops and interactive activities addressing general public: software for Space Missions, assistive technologies for helping people with permanent or temporary disabilities, creation of one's own virtual exhibition on the Internet, semantic Web application allowing users to store and link different kinds of resources, real time water consumption monitoring, video text reader (identification and recognition of texts on video and pictures), MusicMe, find the song that I like, interactive, personalized stories and games in a museum, contribution of information technologies to wildlife and drinking water protection against the effects of urban development, marine science stand (HCMR) with videos, discussions with researchers, a model ship, observation of living benthic organisms by stereoscopes, fishing practices and fish recognition;
o Interactive games: ports and human: fundamental aspects and skills related to portal operations, sailors and port operators' life, virtual interactive guide to ancient Knossos and related games to learn about ancient technologies, realistic 3D platform for walking through structures (buildings, cities...) based on Google maps, IRescue: interactive 3D game, teleguiding robots,…;
o Hands-on and labs: smart camp: laboratory for digital arts and robotics, OCULUS-Sea: a system for observing seas and controlling related actions, optiTrans: multimodal journey planner, digital reading, recognizing and analysing ancient and historical scripts, AMINESS, analyzing information for safe navigation;
o Demos: CMS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, internals of the micromegas particle detectors, X-Ray spectroscopy exhibition, videos on nuclear technology, dioxins, bio-diagnosis, hereditary cancer, radiopharmaceuticals, human DNA and inheritance issues, journey in the domain of nanoelectronics and microsystems;
o Presentations and videos: “STIMULATE” programme for teaching the world of material sciences , active materials (nanomaterials) for Energy and Environment;
Presentations and demos:
o Ocean Bottom Seismometer for seafloor observatory science;
o In situ underwater radioactivity detector KATERINA(on line);
o ARGO float vertical profiling (depth, temperature, conductivity etc.) of seawater column;
o Remote Operated Vehicle “Super Achilles” ;
Stargazing through telescopes of the Hellenic Astronomical Association and NOA mobile Air Quality Monitoring Station of NOA (atrium of FHW);
o Music performance, with musical groups of researchers and visitor students;
o Art exhibitions: astrographs, paintings, pictures, artefacts, computer creations by researchers, photos (winners of the “Light in Life, Light in Science” photo competition to celebrate Year of Light 2015);
o Interactive theatrical game for children (6-12 age) with main topic “Biodiversity” performed by HCMR scientists and personnel;
o Graffiti in science synthesizing paintings with scientific content;
o Stand-up science by a group of physics students-actors presenting scientific cases;

o Corinth: stargazing through the telescope of the National Observatory of Athens at Cryoneri (Corinth);
o Pylos: Institute of Nuclear and particle physics, video shows, exhibitions, lab tours in the installations dedicated to deep underwater experiment KM3NT site;
o Rhodes:
o Exhibitions (scientific instruments, sea-inspired scientists and students);
o Hands on experiments (DNA extraction, live samples from undisturbed and disturbed coastal waters illustrating biodiversity, miniature Mediterranean aquarium;
o Simulations (Poseidon system for monitoring, forecasting and information systems);
o Display of science-related videos linked with HCMR activities;
European corners
Number: One
Location: Main venue, most frequented area;
o Display of informative and promotional material;
o Permanent presence of personnel likely answering all audience’s questions about EU policies and programmes (representatives of General Secretariat for R D, National Horizon 2020 contact points, Hellenic subgroup of MC fellows association);
o Testimonials by researchers having benefited from EU support and MC fellows about their research, their experience and research mobility;
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";

Overview of the main activities results:
o Offer of activities as described in the Annex I part B of the Grant Agreement, namely:
o Over 25 hands-on activities of which 20 specifically addressing kids, students and families;
o About 20 science shows;
o 4 different workshops;
o Over 20 activities specifically addressing kids;
o Over 10 guided visits in Participating institutions (in particular aquaria and labs);
o 2 star gazing sessions (Athens and Corinth);
o Competitions and games (7 game areas);
o Theatre performances, planetarium shows;
o Science talks;
o Exhibitions (Antikythera mechanism, scientific instruments);
o Art and science activities, music performances by researchers;

Active involvement of over 250 researchers in both preparatory works and implementation of the activities, of whom:
o A limited number having benefitted from Marie Curie schemes (exchanges of scientists);
o Almost all of them having benefitted from an EU support in the framework of FP 7 or HORIZON 2020;
o Over 13.400 visitors having taken part in the various activities offered, distributed as follows:
o Over 8.000 at the main event in Athens;
o About 2.000 at Demokritos;
o Over 1.000 in Rhodes and Crete aquaria;
o About 1.000 at NOAS;
o About 700 during kids' programmes at NHCR;
o About 250 at Athena Rc;
o About 150 at Hellenic Pasteur Institute and Cryoneri Observatory (Corinth);
o 80 in science labs visits in Pylos

Tasks undertaken
Description of the current situation
o Current studies and surveys still to be identified;
o Launch of a ex-ante survey targeted to 3 different groups, i.e. high school students, university students and predetermined groups of visitors (over 40);
o Focused on researchers and the research professions;
o Questionnaires (public opinion on researchers, dissemination of information, youth’s opinion on scientific careers, most popular topics, EU support to researchers, intention to visit similar events in future, event’s rating…), available through website;
o Questionnaires displayed through the EU corner during the event (same q
uestions as above and questions on the activities considered the most popular during the night);
o Internet poll addressing Night’s visitors;
Indicators and parameters to be applied
o Qualitative: public perception of researchers and their work: associations with the word “researcher”, characteristics of actual and desired researchers, interest expressed in science and research, enthusiasm for research careers, typology of attendees, will to attend similar future events…;
o Quantitative: number of hits on website, unique visitors, page views, pages per visit, average visit duration, geographical distribution, number of friends/followers on social networks, attendees, completed blogs and visits, number of press articles, number of promotional items displayed;
Selection of the sample
o Method: random selection;
o Absolute figures: at least 500 feedbacks collected through on site and on line questionnaires and poll;
Overview of the impact assessment results
Collection, analysis and processing of 1.708 feedbacks, namely questionnaires, both on and off line, prior and after the event, addressing researchers, scientists (70) , students (39), volunteers (48) and visitors (472), as well as of the visitors' polls (1.079) during the event;
Main conclusions:
o Typology of visitors: mixed age, gender and educational background
o Overall positive feedback regarding the event: 96 % regarding the event interesting (of which 62 % very interesting);
o Researchers/scientists: 92 % convinced of essential need for science communication, 91 % regarding current dissemination level in Greece unsatisfactory; main reason for participating to event: public information about their research; satisfaction about the communication with audience, experience considered interesting or very interesting by over 90 % of researchers involved;
o Students: convinced of societal importance of research (66 %), considering physics/ chemistry, biology but also space and human Sciences(female students) and computer/robotics, physics/chemistry, engineering and space (male students), physics and chemistry for both as the most interesting science fields, strong interest for science careers (over 90 % responders), strong intention to take part in similar future events (74 % responders);
o Volunteers: 100 participants, 70 % female, informed about the event mainly through websites, good communication with visitors, organizers and other intervening actors, 98 % considering the event interesting of which 63 % very interesting;
o Visitors: 60 % female, 55 % aged under 25, 45 % accompanied by family, mostly visiting the main event in Athens, majority from Athens northern suburbs, strong awareness about societal importance of science (83 %), space, physics and chemistry considered as the most interesting science fields, positive appreciation of presentations and activities (considered accessible to the public), reinforced public interest for science and improved opinion about researchers (76,6 %), positive feedback about the activities themselves, most successful being experiments, mainly chemical ones, robotics, and virtual reality projections; event considered interesting by 99 % of responders, intention to take part in similar future events (80 %);
o Poll questions (1.709): 65 % new comers (first time visitors), 91 % considering the event interesting of which 70 % very interesting, 93 % expressing interest for science careers (very interesting for 69 %), 95 % considering research beneficial for society of which 91 % very beneficial, 89 % considering the influence of scientific research positive on their lives.

Possible improvements:
o Researchers: larger spaces wished, better equipment (inadequate mechanical ventilation), need for further technical support ;
o Volunteers: need for more elaborated training (multi dimensional event, multi location, last minutes changes);
o Visitors: better information needed about registration requirements, need for larger spaces for workshops addressing kids, students and school teachers, wish for a longer duration;
Socioeconomic impact:
It is not immediately obvious that the Researchers’ Nights may have a measurable socio-economic impact.
The Researchers’ Nights organized by the REN-ATHENS consortium, consisting of the five larger scientific research centers of the Attica area and two outreach organizations, gave the opportunity of many scientists, from different disciplines, to cooperate and interact with communicators and among themselves. Such cooperation will without a doubt allow generating further synergies and have a positive impact for the Attica area of Greece.
A loot of entities not represented in the elgal partenrhsip were furthermore involved in the Researchers’ Night events, such as schools with a stronger concern in proper education, such as prototype and experimental schools, which participated in the events with activities run by their students. They came in close contact with the scientists and further cooperation in education experimentation has been established in many cases. Such initiatvies should prove positive effects in the education of young people.
Researchers' night activities also involved some companies, operating in the area, through external cooperation. This should ease the setting up of bridges between research and industry and, as such, lead to employment and innovation.
The communities in the Athens metropolitan area have the benefit of being close to a large number of research centres. The Researchers’ Night activities gave many people the opportunity to be in close contact with scientists and get acquainted with the research and its immediate and long term benefits to society. Sometimes people are afraid of what is taking place in the research centres, e.g. the people around Demokritos, known to operate a nuclear reactor, had been worried for their safety. This has certainly changed after the Night’s events, since many people could have a closer look and get the proper information by scientists.
visiting stands 02
looking at the sky
seeing sea microscopic organisms
lego work
A European "corner"
In the Tholos 3D show
visiting stands 01
kids magnifying away
enjoying stand up science
virtual reality games
inside the portable planetarium
a workshop on weather
visiting stands 03
experimenting with fire
robot driving