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Sense, Science and the Magic of Food

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SESAM (Sense, Science and the Magic of Food)

Reporting period: 2020-08-01 to 2021-03-31

Understanding the role of research in society and understanding the impact of researchers’ work on citizens‘ daily life is crucial in any knowledge economy. In particular, the encouragement of young people to embark on a research career is important. The SESAM project – Sense, Science & the Magic of Food is part of the European Researchers Night and sets out to highlight how current food systems challenges can be addressed through research and innovation. By using examples from the food & agricultural domain SESAM sets out to increase public support and recognition of researchers. By showing tangible experiments, science shows, mock- ups, installations and workshops and by mixing these with talks and debates we bring research and science from the labs and offices of universities out to local communities where we use the school to meet up with young people and citizens around the topic of research. The SESAM Night event took place 27th - 28th November as Open Science days at 5 Danish elementary schools.
The work carried out in SESAM - Sense, Science and the Magic of Food were structured according to a Work Package break down (WP1 - WP4) and aimed to create interest among young people at school and among citizens about the role of science in society. The specific work carried out in the WP’s is reported below inline with the structure of Annex 1 in the GA: Main target of the awareness campaign, Communication tools used, Messages conveyed and Promotional material used. As described in the DoA we used the current call for food systems transformation created by the climate crisis as the science case. The SESAM targeted school youth, citizens and scientists involved in and with an interest in the bioeconomy together around one open and public event originally scheduled for September 2-4 2020 but later on move to the last weekend of November. The SESAM aimed to demonstrate how young people and citizens by working together with academia and science can contribute to solving some of the urgent and complex sustainability challenges across global to local scales and multiple domains facing societies. As such the target of the main target of the program was young people at school, teachers, families and relatives of the students. The SESAM builds on the insights from the Young Minds Food Lab that prior to the SESAM had been tested in several contexts at science and food festivals as a way to highlight the commitment and importance of young peoples solutions to societal challenges. We used a broad range of communication tools such as web-communication, various SoMe channels, conference contributions, local news media and web based video streaming. Didactically the SESAM builds on the idea of creating 21st century skills in learning workshops where pupil are challenged to address some of most important food and bio-economy relevant SDG´’s. The messages conveyed unfolded around the 3 main NIGHT objectives: increase the interest among young people in a research career, increased understanding among citizens of the role of research in society and counteraction of traditional stereotypes about researchers and research. We achieve this by the development of the SESAM as a temporary school based science centre. We worked with 2 main science communication tools: i) a number of specific learning stations all taken care of by groups of 2-4 pupils and all coached by a science teacher, ii) a serious of science & sofa talks. All learning stations involved one or more specific science principles from biology, chemistry and/or physics as well as one or more digital principles such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Robotics, Biometrics, Coding and Data Science. For the SESAM we used a range of promotional materials including Screen casted auto-looped video messages about the MSCA and Night program and examples of EU funded research, SESAM Nights, SESAM badges, T-shirts, hoodies, roll- ups and banners.
We find that students improve their understanding of sustainability and the role of science and research both by preparing the event based on action and construction but also through the process of preparing the event it self and by being forced to think and reflect on how research and science can be communicated. Our results show that students benefited greatly from the practice-based teaching and from seeing the transfer of a theory to practice in their work with installations, labs and workshops. Our assessment also shows that the students benefited greatly from the SESAM excursions that was held as part of the Night preparation. The data was collected as pre & post SESAM and our data shows that SESAM overall had a clear impact on their perception of research as judged by pupils. Results from the same survey also showed that the SESAM the increase were more pronounced among the girls which was also confirmed in the interviews. Overall for the impact at the level of young people it can be concluded that the SESAM Night as a considerable interest on young peoples interest in science and STEM subjects. We conclude that this is likely to also increase their interest in higher education and in potentially pursuing a research career later on.
Preparing the Seafood theme for the SESAM event
Pupils in full swing with the Taste the Ocean science workshop
Snapshot of the SESAM planning at Ganløse School
Preparing for the SESAM Jelly Fish science show
Pupils getting ready for the Climate & Carbon SESAM intermezzo