Public at large regardless of age and scientific background will be targeted through the awareness campaign which in year one will focus on showing and scrutinizing the faces of researchers – introducing the researchers in their duality - as young and old, as females and males, as international and local, as people from natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, medicine and arts, showing them at work and in leisure. Special attention will be paid to kids and young people, as those who are yet to choose their career path and the most fruitful ground to promote science as a career choice. In addition, the representatives of the media will also partly be the target group since there needs to be a constant reminder that the researchers are the ones worth talking and writing about.
Impact assessment reports of the Researchers’ Night events from 2010 to 2013 are rare up-to-date reports about a public perception of the researchers and their work in Serbia. Each year, for four years in a row, we asked more than 1000 visitors about their impressions and what they gained from the event. This is what was discovered: The most often perception of researchers is one-dimensional and stereotypical: researchers tend to be seen as geekish, dull and distant, which diminishes their chance to become role models to the young. People do not adequately recognize the direct benefits of the research for the society. Quite often, it is not understood why some people choose to become researchers. Only a small percentage of the population has friends among researchers and/or knows them personally. Young people do not show enough interest in pursuing career in science. Many think that Serbia does not possess a research capacity of its own; Research carried out here through the EU support is not sufficiently recognized; People in Serbia would love to have more science venues and places demonstrating science and its achievements, talking about science (attractive science museums) The underlying conclusion of these reports is that the RN improved general awareness and knowledge about WHAT the researchers do, but left some room for: Improving the image and recognition of the researchers in society (WHO are the researchers?) Clarifying and demystifying their motivation and inspiration to become researchers (WHY) and Explaining WHY research matters to us all, without exceptions. Bearing in mind that these questions are in the very focus of activities planned in the awareness campaign and during the Night in 2014 and 2015, special attention through the impact assessment will be given to these questions, as well. The impact assessment report will be based on findings of the field surveys, questionnaires, interviews and targeted group discussions with stakeholders. The main aim of these surveys is to collect data on how the public sees the researchers and their profession, and to assess the impact and success of the project. For proper drafting of the questionnaires we already initialized collaboration with Professor Slobodanka Markov and Docent Petar Vrgovic, experienced practitioners and experts from the field of social sciences and psychology. We will combine their knowledge with our own accumulated experience from the previous years to develop the most suited tools. We will make a short but comprehensive questionnaire adaptable to different communication channels FRIEND2U (face to face, phone, Internet) and to different segments of the audience addressed (schools, kids, young people, adults, teachers and families). We will use a combination of various assessment methods in order to collect data representing different stakeholders and geographic areas. A kind of interesting lottery for all participants in surveys will be introduced in order to motivate as many people as possible to participate in impact assessment exercise. Surveys will be conducted in three rounds each year, prior to the event, during the Night, and after the event. In each round, sample body representatives will be selected independently and randomly, including at least 750 (during the Night 2000) people from different age and target (mainly young population, researchers, parents and policy makers) groups from all five cities (field survey), as well as the whole Vojvodina region (phone interview). The study will be carried out to provide a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the project results as per project objectives as well as project organization, and researchers’ satisfaction. Finally, they will be used to develop new individual and joint strategies for projects within the network, based on the inquiry results. The same or very similar questionnaires will be used in successive years in order to more easily
In all cities will be organized in order to introduce researchers to the general public and sparkle new friendships, following the usual steps in making friends. The goal of the awareness campaign is to make the face of science a familiar face. Activities planned for the main event will be organized around the topics based on those that friends usually engage in. Be A Friend: Hang Out – In this section of the program visitors of all ages will have a chance to meet the scientists in cafes and chat with them over a coffee or ice-cream in a relaxed atmosphere. Unlike other activities where the researchers will be interacting with many visitors at the same time, this will be a unique opportunity to meet face to face and talk about science, hobbies, movies etc. Be A Friend: Meet Our Parents This section of the program will contain hands-on experiments, demonstrations and science shows describing the science behind some of the major discoveries in the history of science, as well as some of the modern day research inspired by them. The stories of lives of the 10 chosen “parents” - “fathers” and “mothers” of modern day science, will be presented to visitors, together with explanations about their main work (e.g. the story about Richard Feynman and his impact on the development of nanotechnology, or the story about Marie Sklodowska Curie and her work on radioactivity). These stories will be presented along with the work of the present-day researchers that followed from the work of “parents” (e.g. related to Feynman – interactive demonstration about current research in field of nanotechnology, or related to M. S. Curie – interactive workshop about how radioactive isotopes are today used in medicine). Be A Friend: Support Them – “The Y Factor” This section of the program presents a competition between researchers and science professionals for the best science communicator, which we call “The Y Factor” (designed FRIEND2U to resemble the famous talent competition known as the X Factor). During the awareness campaign the audition will be organized, where the jury will choose 10 finalists. The finalists will compete in the finals during the main event, in front of the audience to support them and vote for the best short explanation of a scientific concept. Be A Friend: Enjoy Activities Together – Visitors will have the opportunity to engage in social activities with researchers - play basketball together (a small tournament between the scientists and the general public will be organized for the event), sing karaoke, paint, etc. The purpose of these activities is to show the other side of science to the public – to show the researchers as every day people who have hobbies and enjoy activities other than their work. Be A Friend: Help Them Out – We will design special interactive science quizzes, science treasure hunts and puzzles for visitors, which they will solve on their own, with maybe just a little help from their friend – the Scientist. Be A Friend: Discuss and Hear Them Out –Several lectures will already be given in schools during the awareness campaign, while two additional lectures for the widest public will be organized during the Night itself. A public debate on one of the currently hot topics will also be organized. Be A Friend: Meet Our Friends This segment will also present the opportunity to engage people that are not from science-background in activities that promote science (e.g. a stand-up comedy act on the topic of science, mime artists and actors who will be facilitators of activities for the youngest). Moreover, a 30 min science show will be created by scientists and artists, specifically for the Friend2U RN, and will consist of on-stage experiments wrapped in the elements of a drama play. Be A Friend: Meet Our Kids In this section we will introduce the next generations of scientists to the public – high school students, winners of the scientific Olympic games. Be A Friend: Meet