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Cork Discovers: Discover your changing world

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Cork Discovers (Cork Discovers: Discover your changing world)

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

The aim of Cork Discovers 2020 was to create a fun, interactive and thought-provoking world of research for European Researchers’ Night (ERN) 2020. The theme of the 2020 event was change.

The event promised to be fun for all the family, people were invited to ‘discover their changing world’ and explore the positive changes research makes to our daily life.

Objectives:
O.1 Open up the ‘world of research’ that exists in Cork to a broad and diverse public audience:
1.1 Design and deliver an ERN event that showcases research activities in an accessible manner and arouses the curiosity and interest of the broadest possible section of the local community.
1.2 Undertake a creative awareness campaign that raises awareness of the event as well as ERN and the importance of EU funding for R&I activities.

Objective 1: Open up the ‘world of research’ that exists in Cork to a broad and diverse public audience.
To achieve this objective, the main principle on which we rely is that carefully-planned and well-organised events are likely to draw larger attendee numbers. Due to the current CoVid 19 situation, there was a requirement for changes to be made to the main event plan, it was not possible to have any gatherings at the time in Ireland due to Level 5 Government Restrictions. Our event was delivered entirely virtually. In order to achieve engagement, our programme of activities took place over a longer period of time and culminated in the final events on Friday/Saturday 27/28 November 2021. Our events had a really positive impact on our live online audience but our website, which hosts recordings of all of our live content has generated return audience. To truly open up a ‘world of research’ to the public in Cork and further afield we aimed to deliver:
1. A creative and well-planned awareness campaign
2. Virtual Venues that are accessible to our target audiences and suitable for purpose
3. A well-managed event that benefits both contributors and audiences

O.2 Demonstrate how Research & Innovation changes the world around us:
2.1 Develop a fun and interactive programme that focuses on communicating the impact of research on daily life and train researchers to ensure that messaging is conveyed effectively.
2.2 Showcase the power of research to highlight the importance of EU funding for R&I activities.

Objective 2: Demonstrate how Research & Innovation changes the world around us.
To fulfil this objective, the main principles we rely on is that well-designed activities that are of interest and of relevance to the public are more likely to demonstrate the value and importance of research.
1. A carefully designed programme of activities that brings research to life
2. Clear and consistent messaging throughout the event and a tailored training programme to ensure messages are effectively conveyed by participating researchers


O.3 Positively impact on public perception of research, researchers and research careers:
3.1 Focus on fun interactive activities that promote meaningful engagement and maximise 1:1 interaction between the public and researchers with a view to breaking down common stereotypes.
3.2 Bring members of the public into the research process via interactive events and a citizen science initiative to enable them to experience what it means to be a researcher.

Objective 3: Positively impact on the public’s perception of research, researchers and research careers
In order to fulfil our final objective, we relied on the principle that enabling the public to meet researchers and experience research first-hand in a fun way will help to break down stereotypes about research and researchers. To integrate this principle into our event we:

1. Focus on fun interactive activities that promoted meaningful engagement and maximise the opportunity for 1:1 virtual interaction between the public and researchers. All our activities were designed to reduce traditional barriers of one-directional research communication, creating real insights for both participants and researchers.

2. Incorporated citizen science activities into Cork Discovers 2020 so that the public could directly engage in research and experience what it means to be a researcher.
Science Public Engagement is rapidly changing; engaged research approaches such as Citizen Science are replacing traditional outreach methods as more impactful and sustainable forms of public engagement. Citizen Science supports individuals and communities, who do not have formal research training, to make an authentic contribution to science. It can accelerate the production of research and empower citizens to influence and engage with real science in a more meaningful way. To maximise impact, we partnered with APC Microbiome Ireland (UCC Research Centre) to design, implement and evaluate a citizen science project.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and Government Guidelines in Ireland at the time of Cork Discovers 2020, our events and activities were hosted virtually, mainly on our website - https://www.corkdiscovers.org/.

The Consortium delivered an exciting and interactive virtual program of events for all the family which included:
Launch Event (Cork City Council)
Virtual Training Workshops for Researchers (BCI / UCC)
Primary Schools Program (Teagasc)
Secondary Schools Engagement Program (UCC / COSMOS)
Citizens Science Project (UCC)
Cork Discovers Website featuring live & pre-recorded content (UCC/UCC Academy/BCI/COSMOS)

The Cork Discovers website continues to operate as an ongoing resource for the public, hosting 70 researchers video clips, as well as other live shows and videoclips (Baking in Space, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory), podcasts, climate change and the EU corner.

Through the resources available the website has:
1. increased awareness among the general public on of the importance of research. This is demonstrable through the ongoing increasing visits to the website by the general public. On 27th November the website received 1,953 hits and on 28th November there were a further 1,099 views. The total views by 13th January 2021 since the website was launched is 9,512
2. brought about a better understanding of key benefits that research brings to society, through videoclips made by the researchers themselves on their research. These clips also aimed to actively reduce the stereotypes about researchers, putting a face on the people behind the studies so the public could relate to them
3. provided resources to develop a better understanding of the European Union among the general public, through The EU corner
The most notable impact of this project is its longevity, moving from a standalone in-person event to an online format. Now, the project lives on as a virtual resource on various research topics for an indefinite amount of time via its social media and website.
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