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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - S-TEAM (NIGHT SPANISH TEAM)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-05-31

The unexpected pandemic of COVID-19, apart from being a serious threat to human life, changed the priorities in our society and became an inflection point in the way we socialize or communicate with each other. Therefore, many of the activities originally planned in our proposal needed to be re-adapted to this new situation. Following governments and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, we mobilized ourselves to meet our goals ensuring that our activities would not put at risk the health of the organisers, the researchers involved and the audience. We elaborated a contingency plan with corresponding risks assessments and included new measures which would guarantee a safe environment and prevent virus dissemination. Mass events could be no longer scheduled. Instead, the number of attendees allowed per activity was going to be significantly reduced and prior registration required. New venues were being explored to guarantee safe distance among audience. Workshops and hands-on activities were re-arranged so that there were no interactions among facilitators and audience or, if there were, they met the sanitary standards.
The pre-event was our first approach in terms of science outreach in the pandemic. We managed to keep some face-to-face activities which worked really well but we decided not to take the risk for the main event and expose ourselves to a late minute cancellation of the Night. Due to this situation, which could be described as a bit disheartening at the beginning, and the fact that we confronted the second wave of the pandemic in October, we made the right choice and made the most of the digital technology and online resources at our reach and the vast majority of our activities were converted into an online format for the main event. However, some activities had to be cancelled while some other remained as originally planned. Occasionally, there were some technical issues which were beyond our reach. For instance, some schools had poor internet connection which affected the quality of sound and/or image of the online talks and there was nothing we could do to overcome this situation at the precise moment. We came up with the idea of asking for permission (both speaker and audience) to record the conference, so that if anyone was experiencing issues could visualise it another time.
COVID-19 radically reshaped the way humans communicate, however we strongly believe the challenge was successfully overcome. The experience gathered by all partners of the NIGHT S-TEAM project and the balanced distribution of tasks among them were key to achieve most of the objectives established in the proposal. After all, every partner was thrilled that the S-TEAM project was really happening and put their hearts into it.

The proposal represented an opportunity to encourage citizens to explore measure and experiment with the world around them. We are currently facing new challenges to involve the public in decision-making regarding social issues. In this sense, science education is essential to create a responsible citizenship, as it promotes critical thinking, creativity and innovation and citizens play a major role in addressing the challenges to a sustainable future. The project initiatives was organised around the motto: Let’s do it together to do it yourself (DIY). Also, events were celebrated across Spain with a common aim: to bring researchers closer to the general public and increase awareness of research and innovation activities, with a view to supporting the public recognition of researchers, creating an understanding of the impact of researchers' work on citizens´ daily life, and encouraging young people to embark on research careers.

The main aim of S-TEAM was to promote public awareness and understanding of research in science and technology. In order to achieve this, we will encourage researchers to share their work with the public at large, especially those who have benefited from EU support. A critical framework will be established as a forum for discussion with experts from partner’s institutions, about solutions that are being proposed in relation to specific problems of general interest. We do hope to demystify and humanise research, reveal what researchers do, and stimulate young people to embark on research careers.
Most of the activities offered by S-TEAM Project were in online format but a few kept face-to-face nature as originally described in the proposal.
In total, 501 different activities were organised among all beneficiaries. Only 8 of these activities (1.6%) were performed in-person. Among them, we offered some during the pre-event like RISArchers by the University of Zaragoza, (a series of scientific monologues with humor, which was also available in streaming), and hands-on activities for children organised by the University of Oviedo. The University of the Bask Country run as well two colloquiums with mix online-onsite access. Regarding the main event, only science and art exhibitions (5) maintained the face-to-face format.
Due to the pandemic situation, the rest of the activities were adapted to online formats using a wide range of tools, including Microsoft TEAMs, Zoom, virtual reality platforms, social media and websites.

Regarding, the topics implemented: Informal talks and workshops addressed to educational centres gathered large numbers of attendees and were spread across different locations within each region and involved large numbers of researchers. The topics covered by these activities included many different disciplines, including natural, social and formal sciences. It is important to highlight that all the activities related somehow to the COVID-19 pandemic got great attention among all publics and all venues.
The scientific and technological development has a great influence in how our societies make progress, together with other social factors such as politics or economics. However, in recent years a lack of interest in research careers related with science and technology has been reported in several countries around the world, including Spain. The reasons behind this are still not fully elucidated, but current findings point out to a lack of understanding between the scientific and the non-scientific communities.

With a selection of communication and dissemination activities that have already proven successful in attracting the right audience, we estimate that almost 212,844 persons were informed via dissemination. The post-evaluation from our previous NIGHT gives us a solid evidence that the overall number of attendees was 42,499 with a hybrid event (online and onsite), so it has increased the audience size.