Skip to main content

The Curiosity Carnival: Oxford European Researchers’ Night 2017

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Curiosity Carnival (The Curiosity Carnival: Oxford European Researchers’ Night 2017)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-12-31

By capitalising on the University of Oxford’s world-class European-funded research base, together with our outstanding museums, libraries, gardens and woods, education programmes and public engagement expertise, we created a truly inspirational multi-venue multi-disciplinary European Research night in 2017.

The event itself was a city-wide programme of high quality and innovative activities - each venue had its own ‘flavour’ – focusing on specific research topics and encompassing different activities - so that there was ‘something for everyone’ across all age groups and all walks of life.

By focusing on quantity and quality, we created an impact on the audiences, the participating researchers and a longer lasting legacy.


a) Organise an inspirational large-scale public engagement with research event at 8 different venues and locations that engages 10,000+ people via the live activities and 250,000+ via digital and media activities.

b) Increase awareness of research and its impact on society to an audience of young people and their influencers.

c) Enable at least 200 researchers, including a significant proportion of female researchers, to take part.

d) Inspire young people to consider a career in research

e) Share our challenges, successes and lessons learnt.

Activities included interactive stalls; games; mass experiments; science ‘demos’; a ‘Living Library’ for the public to take out a researcher 'on loan' and two grand finales with musical performances.

The awareness campaign facilitated even greater public-researcher engagement across digital and media platforms, which included a fun and educational online activity for school pupils to interact with researchers. The in-depth impact assessment utilised baseline data and both quantitative and qualitative methods.

The project has reached its objectives and proved to be successful.
"1.2.1 Awareness campaign Work Package 1

Overview of the results - Period 1

o Set-up of the Awareness Working group
o Drafting of the communication and engagement plan that focused on the following aspects: Design and visual identity; Offline marketing; Online marketing and engagement; Schools and community engagement.
o Development of a communication and awareness plan covering channel analysis, costing, activity leads, risks and mitigation, and impact measures;
o Development of design and visual identity focusing on stimulating and feeding curiosity in a vibrant and colourful way with a view to illustrating the ""curiosity carnival"" theme.

Overview of the results - Period 2

o Conception, production and display of promotional materials;
o Publication of articles/announcement in University’s News and in regional news publications such as the Oxford Mail, Oxford Times and BBC Radio Oxford;
o Large outdoor advertisements at highly visible sites around the city;
o Distribution of leaflets by Royal Mail to over 65.000 households across the city;
o Airing of radio ads on JackFM Oxfordshire and Heart FM;
o Bright and lively on-board bus screen advertising animation created and displayed on key routes on the Oxford Bus Company network;
o Sharing of details about the event with large local employers, Oxfordshire primary and secondary schools, parish and town councils in the county, and Oxford leisure centres and community groups;
o Event website: 65.402 page-views at 16 October, with 52.043 unique page-views;
o Profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and organisation of Facebook Live events;
o 3 million followers on Facebook, 395.000 on Twitter, 246.000 on Instagram;
o Pre events:
- ""I’m a Researcher, Get Me Out of Here"": online engagement activity gave secondary school students in Oxfordshire the chance to connect with 22 researchers from a range of disciplines . Three of the schools had traditionally low levels of engagement in higher education;
- 4 pre-Curiosity Carnival public engagement events held in target Oxford communities, enabling engagement between dozens of researchers and 425 members of the public, including young people;
- Launch of Schools online resources in April 2017, developed by Oxford Sparks, including the ‘What can Chemists learn from nature?’ animation;
o 280.175 ""active"" engagement through online and digital activities;
o About 45 million people made aware of the European Researchers 'Night and its objectives.

1.2.2 Activities during the Night Work Package 2

Overview of the results - Period 1

o Setting up of the Night Working Group;
o Development of the programme of activities on the night

Overview of results - Period 2

o Offer of the activities as planned, namely:
o 8 different venues: 7 across the city of Oxford and 1 outside of the city (Wytham Woods);
o Over 150 different activities offered to the audience;
o Highlights included “CSI Ashmolean”, “The Economics Bus”, “Stories around the campfire” and the “Living Library”;
o 36 activities offered in streets;
o Cooperation between researchers and troubadour Jonny Berliner;
o Pub-style quiz (Museum History of Science);
o Activities in Weston Library activities (borrow a researcher notably, as well as game cafés);
o Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum: notably interactive experiences and performances: “The Blood Factory” “Saving Leo the Lion”, “Diseases of Modern Life”;
o The Ashmolean Museum: “The Magic Planet” and “Physics on Pointe”, Grand Finales at the Ashmolean.
o EU Corner: staffed by members of the University’s European Team, Research Services, MSCA fellows and other volunteers offering information about EU funding as well as quiz, and a badge making activity;.
o Night of Heritage Light 2017 by the Society of Light and Lighting (art and science of light, with fun, creative designs lighting up some of the city’s most iconic buildings);
o Active involvement of 553 researchers to the activities offered, of which 65 % were female; 96 having benefited from a EU funding (FP 7 or HORIZON 2020); 10 having benefited from MSc schemes;
o 9400 visitors having taken part in the activities offered."
1.2.3 Impact Assessment Work Package 3

Overview of the results - Period 1

o Setting up of the Impact Working group aimed at assessing public engagement with Curiosity Carnival; changing the conception of research in young people and their influencers; the impact on researchers and the public visitors experience;
o Agreement on the evaluation plan and key audiences.

Overview of the results - Period 2

o Collection, analysis and processing of over 1.300 feedbacks based on questionnaires and on line forms;
o Main conclusions:
o Overall positive feedback
o Increased interest on research (from 41 % before the event up to 79 %a afterwards);
o Activities conducted by researchers all proved to be successful
o Increased mutual understanding between pupils and researchers (such as the researcher’s understanding of how pupils view their research, increased for 90 % of responders);
o Increased communication skills of researchers (70 %);
o General intention expressed by the researchers involved to take part in a future similar event;
o Increased appreciation of researchers as people by the general public after having taken part in the events.