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York: City of the Past, City of the Future

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - YorNight (York: City of the Past, City of the Future)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2015-11-30

For the second time European Researchers’ Night took place in York in 2015 after the successful event in 2014. York is an incredibly exciting, vibrant and diverse city, rich in heritage, discovery and an over-riding sense of curiosity, in short a city where ideas spring to life and flourish and where collaboration is celebrated.

YORNIGHT aimed to enhance public recognition of researchers and their work, point out the impact of research on citizens’ daily lives and well-being and stressed the fun and fascinating aspects of research with a view to stimulating young people’s interest for science and science careers.

In such a context, five main messages were conveyed, both during the awareness campaign and during the event itself, namely:

o Researchers are amongst us;
o What’s up with research and innovation?
o Research eases your life and increases your well-being;
o Research is fun;
o Being a researcher is exciting and amazing;

Although addressing the public at large in all its components, YorNight specifically targeted young people, in particular those facing or about to face a career choice.

The project celebrated and explained the depth and breadth of the research on the theme York: City of the Past, City of the Future. The Work Programme delivered its key messages through an integrated programme including talks, exhibitions, interactive displays, hands-on experiments, competitions, short research-related videos, research café’s and a European Corner.
Tasks undertaken
Target audiences
o Public at large regardless of age and scientific background;
o Special attention to be paid to young people facing career choices, as well as to primary school pupils , scout and girl guide groups, parents of the children;
Messages conveyed
o Researchers are amongst us;
o Researchers are ordinary people with an extraordinary job;
o What’s up with research and innovation?
o Research eases your life and increases your well-being;
o Research is fun;
o Being a researcher is exciting and amazing;

Main communication tools to rely on

Off line
o Visits to primary schools raising awareness about research and impact on daily lives;
o Mobilisation of “Science is For Parents Too” association for encouraging parental support for primary school kids in less advantaged areas;
o Distribution of promotional packs to girl guides and scouts (leaflets and badges) explaining also the meaning of the 2 YorNight badges;
o Publication of articles, announcements, advertisements in press and magazines at local level (Local Link, The Press);
o Airing of promotional spots, announcements, interviews on local TV and radio stations;
o Distribution of 1.000 beer mats to local pubs in York;

On line
o Setting up of a project website (profiles of researchers, links to other relevant institutional and popular websites, such as Science Grll, Athena Swan, Royal Institutions interactive games site)
o Setting up of social networks profiles (Twitter, Facebook)
Promotional material
o Posters, leaflets, brochures, programmes;
o Ads and banners;
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 Design and production of promotional material: printed brochures displayed through participating institutions and universities' mailing lists, flyers displayed in public places (information centres, cafes, businesses, campus), invitations displayed to local schools, city council, north Yorkshire business enterprise partnership, Children's University, regional Scouts and Girl Guides groups; bookmarks displayed through local bookshops, libraries and York Museum Trust, branded beermats distributed to local pubs;
o Public advertising: banners, billboards, digital screens (hotels, campuses, sport centre);
o Airing of interviews of organisers and researchers, and announcements on radio stations (local BBC station);
o Promotion during other public events involving school children and teachers (University of York and Yorkshire Museum)
o Publication of press releases by various institutions involved;
o Publication of advertisement and of articles in local newspapers (York Press), as well as in several publications of involved institutions (Yorkshire Museum programme booklet, York Explore quarterly magazine, English Heritage quarterly magazine and York city guides such as Little Vikings, York Mix, Everything York and Visit York) ;
o Pre-event: public lecture at St Peter's School (day prior to the event);
o Setting up, constant updating of the project website: general info on the event, venues, researchers' profiles, links to popular and institutional websites.;
o 47.648 non-bounce page views on project website, 5.711 non-bounce sessions, 4.122 unique users of which 63,5 % new;
o Setting up and constant updating of social nework profiles (Facebook, Twitter);
o 239 likes and 4.349 posts on Facebook, 416 followers and 80 tweets on Twitter;
o On line advertsing on popular websites; cross marketing with big popular events such as the Food and Drink Festival and the BBC History Magazine weekend;
o Over 335,382 people made aware of the Researchers'Night and its objectives.


Tasks undertaken

List of locations and venues involved

o All venues within easy walking distance of each other, within York’s medieval city walls including lecture theatres, exhibition spaces, cafés, museums, gardens, city centre library and a Cold War Bunker.
Main types of activities planned
Talks, exhibitions, interactive displays, quizzes and competitions, short research-related videos, European corner.
Detailed programme of activities
o Organised by venue in 2015 to allow family-friendly events to be grouped in walking distance. All activities were under the heading York: City of the Future and fit under the themes; our city, health, food, digital, smart and green and fair society.

o Our City:
o 3D city mapping looking at the future of city centre planning in York
o Using acoustic modelling techniques to reconstruct the sound inside St Mary’s Abbey
o Preservation techniques used to reconstruct York Minster

o Health:
o Research shaping future treatments like diagnosing Parkinson’s disease
o Understanding how our immune system works
o Using stem cell and 3D tissue templates to repair joints

o Food:
o The future of food waste and recycling
o Groundbreaking research creating new strains of resilient rice
o Revealing how pottery residue analysis gives new light to cooking in the Stone Age.

o Digital:
o ‘Game Zone’
o Brain computer interface devices
o The York FaceVar Lab asks ‘can a computer identify faces?’

o Smart and green:
o How can farming in Africa be sustained in the future?
o Enzyme discovery and the quest for a sustainable future
o Revealing the past and future of light, earth’s greatest resource
o Fair society:
o Challenging the perceptions of mental illness
o Co-Motion explores redesigning York to cater for older people’s restricted mobility

European corner
Number: One
Location: Refectory Café, King’s Manor

Activities planned:

o Connections to all relevant EU websites;
o Display of informative and promotional material;
o Permanent presence of personnel of the University’s European and Development Team promoting European dimension and gender balance;
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 results
o Offer of 110 activities as planned in the Annex I part B to the Grant agreement, namely:
o Hands-on experiments;
o Demonstrations;
o Workshops;
o Guided tours;
o Talks;
o Stargazing;
o Science cafés, live-links, competitions and a science quiz;

o Active involvement of 259 researchers in the implementation of the activities, amongst which:

o 45 researchers having benefitted from Marie Curie schemes;
o 5.950 visitors having taken part in the activities offered, distributed as follows:
o 2.041 in King's Manor;
o 1.107 in Yorkshire Musuem;
o 560 in York Explore Library;
o 400 in York Medical Society;
o 79 in Barley Hall;
o 71 in York Cold War Bunker;
o 20 in Duke of York pub;
o 72 in University of York and;
o 1.600 in Museum gardens and observatory.


Tasks undertaken

Description of the current situation

o Range of reports on the public perception of researchers such as IPSOS MORI Public attitudes to science 2011, forthcoming 2014 report, Wellcome Trust Monitor Wave 2, Higher Education Statistics Agency data;
o Questionnaires addressed to teachers ex-post;
o On-line surveys ex-ante and ex-post;
o Face-to-face interviews during the night, one for adults and one for young people;
o Self-evaluation for those running events;
o Key questions on pin boards;
o Feedback from tweets;
o Records of discussions and talks;
o Postcards to share views from different activities;

Indicators and parameters to be applied

o Quantitative: number of attendees, typography of attendees (age, gender, occupation, background), rating of the event, participation in various activities, hits on website, friends and followers on social networks, promotional items displayed, media coverage;

o Qualitative: public opinion about researchers and their work (association with the word “researcher, characteristics of actual and ideal researchers, interest expressed for science and research, motivations for attending the event, intention to attend future similar events, involvement of researchers funded under HORIZON 2020).
Selection of the sample
o Method: half of the interviewed should be young people; for the rest, random selection;
o Absolute figures: 30 face to face interviews, 250 respondents to questionnaires;
Overview of the results
o Collection and processing of 889 feedbacks (pre-event questionnaires addressing public and participants, questionnaires druing the event, face to face interviews, feedback forms, observation forms from volunteers, school groups questionnaires….)."
"o Main conclusions:

o Typology of visitors: balanced male/female participation, about 50 % aged under 18, huge number of under 12 accompanied by family, most from local area, having heard about the event mostly through brochures, University of York weekly events email, direct mailing or promotion druing other public events, as well as websites;
o Overall positive feedback regarding the events: event rated as ""excellent"" or ""good"" by 96 % of responders, appreciation of possibility of direct contact with researchers, of the venues chosen and their easy access, (although some difficulties for the set up in venues open during the day such as libraries and tourist attractions);
o Most successful activities: interactive talks addressing kids aged 7-11, astronomy workshop for families, interactive exhibitions in Yorkshire Museum gardens, Year of Light hub, panel discussion related to the discovery of Richard III, reconstruction of the acoustics of St Mary's abbey;
o Less successful activities: researcher cafés (no real interaction with researchers), dressing up box (kids to identify what they perceive as a researcher) (due to location chosen that didn't attract sufficient participation although enjoyed by those who took part), draw a scientist (not relevant for too small children and not sufficiently competitive towards other offered activities for older ones);
o Improved image of researchers and their work by Girl Guides and Scouts: increased awareness by 83 % respondents, positive image of researchers and
their job (83 % of Girl Guides considering having learned something, 86 % considering science is fun, 72 % aware of solving problem capacity of science, while such figures amounted for scouts 83 %, 98 % and 98 %);
o Complete awareness of science benefits to society in pre-event questionnaires (100 % responders), as well as on citizens' lives (94 %), while describing researchers as ""creative"" 41 %) and ""ethical"" (32 %);
o Positive image about research contribution to well-being, understanding of the job researcher, as well as of the researchers themselves (interesting, open-minded, ethical) in both face-to-face interviews and reactions inserted in tubes during the events;
o Positive impact on youth's interest for scientific careers (increased for 66 % of Scouts and 4 % of Girl Guides, interest for scientific career for 53 % of schoolchildren, 88% of the responders to the pre-event on-line questionnaire, 48 % of responders to face-to-face interviews).

o Possible improvements with a view to future similar events:
o Written promotional material: improved design and clearer explanation on all the activities offered;
o Identification of a larger space for large groups hands-on activities (such as Year of Light hub) allowing massive participation of families;
o Calling upon extra volunteers (for organisation of activities, setting up, impact assessment-linked activities);
o Larger spaces to be offered to researchers."