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CORDIS

Traces of research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TRACES (Traces of research)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2019-03-01 al 2019-12-31

The European Researchers’ Night in Finland was celebrated on the last Friday of September, 28.09.2018 in 11 locations in Finland from Helsinki to Sodankylä. The event offered new experiences, practical research experiments and discussions with enthusiastic scientists. People of all ages experienced the work of the researchers and saw how science influences our everyday life. This year there were over 27 000 visitors and hundreds of researchers participating all over Finland.

The theme for this year’s event was Traces, the marks science makes on society and that humans leave on the earth. The event also celebrated the European theme year of cultural heritage and remembered the Finnish Civil War in 1918. The audience got familiar with research through workshops, science lectures and laboratory visits. The most popular programmes were for example the teddybear hospital in Kuopio, a bugworkshop in Oulu, and gaming research and robotics in Tampere.

The largest number of visitors was at the University of Jyväskylä where various Researchers’ Night activities gathered more than 13 500 visitors. The audience was interested in, for example, the virtual worlds of Ruusupuisto, the Rihlaperä observatory and the accelerator laboratory of the Department of Physics. All in all, this year the event was held in Espoo, Helsinki, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kuopio, Oulu, Sodankylä and Tampere. In addition, programme was also organized by the participating organisations University of Turku in the Turku region; Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius in Kokkola and the Institut Francais de Finlande in Helsinki.

The event was a great success with the public and the organizers received lots of positive feedback across all age groups. Advertising of the event was very much strengthened. Again this year, there were synergies with other independent local events, for example the cooperation with the City of Light in Jyväskylä, which played an important factor in the impressive number of visitors. For the following year, the continuity in the organisation and a higher level of ambition of the event is necessary to reach a wider audience.

Overall objectives:
1) to shed light on the forefront research carried out in Finland
2) to break stereotypes the general public may have on researchers
3) to inspire and enhance vivid public engagement of researchers
4) to encourage childrens’ and students’ interest towards scientific careers

The project reached its objectives and proved to be successful.
Since the beginning of the project, it reached over 1 million people through press releases, articles in the media, social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), website, advertisements and posters. The Facebook campaign reached in total over 384 000 people. The Facebook posts about the program in different cities were advertised in the areas where the events took place and succeeded to attract engagement from those areas. All the posts at the Facebook-site reached most people in capital Helsinki (51 961 people). The next biggest reach was in Tampere (12 951 people), Kuopio (11 293) and Jyväskylä (9 287). Next came Oulu (9 221) and Joensuu (3 220) and after them Vantaa (2 963), Espoo (2 111), Kokkola (2 095), and Turku (1 727). The Facebook posts reached well people of different ages, mostly people aged 25–34 and 35–44 (both 21 %). The next biggest group were people aged 45–54 (11 %). Most of the people reached by the page were women (65 %). In Twitter the audience was 67 % women and 33 % men. The amount of Twitter followers grew from to 645 (Oct 3, 2017) to 789 (Oct 1, 2018). The Twitter posts had over 28,100 impressions during September 2018. In Instagram the event has 348 followers. The amount of followers grew from last year (149 followers Oct 3, 2017).
Overview of the results

The RN attracted visitors of all ages and demographics groups:
o Younger age groups (7-21) were perhaps over represented in the study, compared to previous studies
o A significant number of attendees were female
o The attendees were from all educational backgrounds. However, 41% had received only elementary school education or less. This might be caused by possible overrepresentation of younger visitors
o The majority of attendees (91%) were Finnish.

The event was a huge success with all visitors:
o 81% of the general public enjoyed the event very or extremely much. 15% somewhat enjoyed it.
o 58% of school children enjoyed the event very or extremely much. 31% somewhat enjoyed it.

The event was successful in changing the opinion of a large portion of attendees towards science:
o The majority of visitors from the general public (69%) were already very interested in science.
o The opinion of 80% of the visitors changed positively after the event.

The event had a positive impact on the opinion towards science of school children visiting in organised school visits:
o Approximately 83% of the school children expressed prior interest to science. 23% of them were very or extremely interested.

The event was very successful in transferring new knowledge to attendees.
o Almost 96% of attendees from the general public said they gained new knowledge in various degrees with more than 44% gaining a lot of new information.
o 81% of school children said that they gained somewhat, very or extremely much new knowledge. Only a small portion said they did not gain any knowledge at all.

The event successfully demonstrated to the attendees that the image media portrays for scientists is not entirely accurate:
o Only 20% of respondents considered that the media gives a very much or extremely accurate image of scientists.
o 34% think the image is slightly or completely wrong. The largest portion (46%) believe that media gives a somewhat correct image.
o This is very important since it shows that one of the main goals of the RN, namely the breaking of stereotypes about scientists, is a needed one.

A good proportion of the young visitors expressed an interest towards following a scientific career:
o Of the people under 25 years old participating in the general questionnaire almost 60% said they were somewhat, very or extremely interested towards following a scientific career.
o The response of school children from organised visits was more moderate. 28% of the students expressed interest higher than “somewhat”. This is a very positive result.

The event was very successful in this aspect with:
o Almost 100% of attendees across all ages said they would visit a similar event in the future.
o 89 % of school children expressed an interest to visit similar events.

Online media were more successful than more traditional forms of advertising.
o Most people (67%) were informed about the event through word of mouth and social media.
o The radio was the least successful form of advertising with a total of 1%.
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