CORDIS - EU research results



Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2019-12-31

Our project sought to bring research and researchers' and the public together in new and novel ways across the country of Scotland. We addressed issues of lack of understanding on both sides of Universities and the public and in different areas, from urban to rural to Highlands and Islands. In particular our overall objectives were to:

- Create a lively and stimulating programme accessible to all backgrounds, ages and interests to showcase the variety of world-class research taking place, increasing awareness of the importance of research in our lives and why it should be funded using public money;
- Showcase the impact, relevance, and benefits of research and how investment in research tackles real-life local and global issues;
- Showcase the range of locations where research takes place (not just universities) and highlight the multi-disciplinary, collaborative nature of modern research, in particular through the ambassadorial role of MSCA Fellows and EU projects;
- Use the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation to underpin our editions. Co-production sessions will feature in both editions of the NIGHT project;
- Encourage people, especially young people, to consider a career in research as an exciting and appealing option, challenging stereotypes;
- Increase public understanding of the European Union and Scotland’s relationship within it.
- Reach new audiences across Scotland;
"Overview of the results

o Organisation of over 50 events across Scotland
o Involvement of the Universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St Andrews and the Beltane Network of the four universities in Edinburgh –Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Heriot-Watt and Queen Margaret;
o New for 2018 involvement of partner Universities, such as Robert Gordon University and the University of Dundee – increasing the reach of the edition of the Night.
o Common theme: ""Research for all""
o Engagement with the Scottish STEM Ambassador Network (over 6.000 Ambassadors from all walks of life);
o Organisation of multi-exhibit areas in shopping centres and doors open approach of, research and industrial working environments;
o Delivery of European Corners"
Year on year we have built a strong reliable brand that is recognised in Scotland by both the public and our researchers. Capitalising on this we have achieved significant results beyond the state of the art. We are also now in a position to be able to quantify this claim in a new way having taken a robust approach to our evaluation and held a meeting with ERN partners from across the NIGHTS in St Andrews in May 2019 which has allowed us to move towards an exciting new approach to capturing information, evaluating and reflecting on the results and impact of this project.

• Explorathon comprised 54 events, consisting of 13 drop-in public events (including 2 that were part of larger events); 16 timed public events; and 25 events for schools/ uniformed groups (e.g. scouting / Girlguiding). 35 institutions contributed to the delivery of these events.
• Events attracted a total audience of 17,679, 85% of which attended drop-in events. 56% of the audience was age under 30. 70% had not been to Explorathon in previous years. 50% considered themselves to be unfamiliar with research/researchers prior to attending.
• Main reasons for attending public events were to: inspire child/children (35% of attendees); learn something new (29%); and for a social occasion (24%). The main for attending schools/uniformed group events was to promote STEM to young people.

All audience groups rated their experiences highly:
• Public rated good or very good: Overall experience 97%, Content 96%, Format 94%, Venue 94%
• Schools/ uniformed groups overall rated good or very good by (6% of young people and 95% of adults)
• Positive experiences at public events attributed to: activities being fun/enjoyable, especially for children; appropriate and accessible venues; engaging presenters who pitch content at an audience appropriate level.
• Positive experiences at schools/uniformed group events attributed to: content at an appropriate level; inclusion of interactive activities; variety of activities within one event.

Our project

Increased awareness and understanding about research and its societal relevance:

• 84% of attendees ‘learnt something new about the topics/subjects covered’
• 80% ‘felt encouraged to ask questions or express opinions about research’
• 75% ‘improved their understanding of the relevance of research to everyday life’
• 69% ‘had a discussion with a researcher about their work’

Increased awareness and understanding about research funding:

• 37% ‘found out more about how research is funded’. Further support and direction may be needed to embed this message in more areas of Explorathon content in future. However consideration should be given as to the balance between such messaging and other content to ensure it does not detract from audience enjoyment and interaction.
Improved attitudes towards research and researchers:
• Attendees reported greater awareness of researchers as approachable or ‘normal’ people.
• Attendees appreciated the opportunity for children and young people to meet potential role models.
• Events confirmed or strengthened positive attitudes for attendees who were already familiar with research.
• Attendees felt confident in asking questions to researchers. Other than questions about specific research topics, public attendees would like to ask questions about: becoming a researcher; the day-to-day life of a researcher; and the research process. Young people want to ask questions about how and why people chose research as a career.

Motivated to explore more about research/ research opportunities:

Public attendees
• 51% intend to look for more information about the research topic/ subject they saw (13% had already done so at time of feedback)
• 38% intend to visit a researcher’s webpage (10% had already done so)
• 38% intend to read information taken away from event (15% already done so)
• 23% intend to contact a researcher (7% had already done so)

Schools/uniformed groups
• 89% of young people learnt something new. 81% of teachers/leaders thought young people heard about opportunities for further study or careers linked to research.

Impact on researchers:
• Provided opportunities for researchers to increase the audience for their research; to inspire young people about STEM subjects; explain everyday relevance of their research.
• 90% found Explorathon a rewarding and motivating experience; 73% enhanced transferable skills; 68% were inspired to do more public engagement.