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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 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
"A European ""corner"""
looking at the sky
experimenting with fire
visiting stands 03
kids magnifying away
inside the portable planetarium
virtual reality games
seeing sea microscopic organisms
visiting stands 01
robot driving
In the Tholos 3D show
enjoying stand up science
visiting stands 02
a workshop on weather
lego work