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European Researchers' Night Cymru - Making a Difference in Wales

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ADIFF (European Researchers' Night Cymru - Making a Difference in Wales)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2020-12-31

Wales is known for its spectacular wild landscapes, ancient castles and poetic language. The capital city of Cardiff is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, attracting 20 million visitors a year. Many people from the surrounding capital region travel to Cardiff for work, shopping and cultural events. It is the most populated part of Wales and over half of 16-25yr olds live here.

However, many people are unaware of the amazing breakthroughs made by the diverse community of scientists and engineers that live in Cardiff and across Wales.

ADIFF 2020 is the first and only European Researchers’ Night to take place in Wales. Delivered as a partnership between Cardiff University, a research-intensive institution ranked 2nd in the UK for the impact of its work and Science Made Simple Ltd, science communication specialists with international reputation for inciteful career- and researcher-focussed public engagement and training. Together they created ADIFF - an entertaining and illuminating family festival that highlights how researchers are Making A DIFFerence in the capital and beyond to the whole of the country.

ADIFF’s specific objectives are to:
- create a pop-up, city-centre family friendly European Researchers’ Night, under the theme of Making A DIFFerence, that celebrates the work of researchers.
- raise awareness for the main event across Wales through pre-events for schools, community groups and individuals, media coverage and online engagement.
- improve the quality and creativity of researcher public engagement activities by providing training sessions that include presenting science to non-specialists, performance skills, attracting non-captive audiences, inclusivity and developing successful activities.
- increase the number of researchers in Wales involved in public engagement and outreach work and create a support network for them to encourage each other and share ideas.
- promote the benefit and work of the European Union to the general public, including promoting the work of European Researchers’ Nights across Europe.
ADIFF’s execution was informed by the restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic situation worldwide, and a festival delivered entirely online resulted. This affected the reach of the festival both in terms of overall attendance at events but also in geographical reach.

The resulting programme of events for the general public included live participation quizzes, talks, round-table discussions, researcher ‘demo-dating’, twitter quizzes, online trail, social media campaigns celebrating national/international awareness days, researcher content developed as accessible social media content, video Q&A sessions for schools, poster campaigns, on-street advertising.

Subject areas presented by, with and on behalf of researchers highlighted the vast range of interesting and surprising topics studied and progressed by researchers in Wales, with a special focus on revealing the multilingual skills that prove valuable to progressing research and creating positive collaborative environments.

Around 100 researchers participated in ADIFF 2020. A training network with a sociable club environment was established through Microsoft Teams, with 14 training sessions offered to support researchers in developing and sharing the skills and ideas required to engage a range of public audiences with their research. The sessions we well attended, providing short, focussed support to help researchers contribute to planned events and campaigns, or to help them develop and deliver their own.

Project officers from Cardiff University, Science Made Simple and contributors from other organisations supported this training network and the events to help researchers access audiences, adapt their work to suit those audiences and also to provide a safe online operating environment for both researchers and the public.

The switch to online resulted in lower than anticipated numbers reached through live events, as original plans were to create a pop-up city centre festival, with high volume of passing audience traffic. However, a greater effort was placed on creation of engagement through social media, and the online format presented opportunities to connect to audiences beyond the Cardiff Capitol region and to collaborate with partners in other regions and countries.

ADIFF recorded an overall reach through live and recorded events, partner meetings, promotion to influencing organisations, broadcast and social media of 430,908.
Audience engaged included students and teachers in schools, researchers (as particpants of ERN and beyond), families, professionals, adults, Girlguiding Cymru and broader public. The project recorded audience participation from Wales, England, Scotland, Colombia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany.
Through the ADIFF project, the following resources were established that continue as active beyond project end:

A researcher network, hosted as a Microsoft Team by Cardiff University. This network has over 130 members, including project officers, researchers from a number of universities in Wales and beyond and partner organisations able to further support public engagment activity and training. These partners include science centre/museum staff, officers on non-ERN projects, officers from other ERN projects.

The project website www.adiff.cyrmu with open-access resources (e.g. quizzes, schools activities) which members of the public can participate in.

Project social media channels (Facebook & Instagram Adiff_Cymru; Twitter Adiff.Cymru). Project officers will refresh content on these channels through links to researcher engagement content from other projects.

As a first ERN in the country of Wales, the relationships developed through ADIFF 2020 with schools, partner organisations, other universities and ERNs is pivotal for the success of the 2020 project, and for future projects – ERN and otherwise. These relationships will be nurtured in order to build on the researcher network and the opportunities to broaden engagement with the people of Wales.
Project letterhead
Street advertising campaign
Cartoon Researcher example-social media content
Project logo example
Project logo example
social media campaign example_WHY? Poster Welsh
Project graphic characters montage
Project logo example
social media campaign example_WHY? Poster English