Engaging young people with research is the most important aim of mass experiments. School students themselves can conduct scientific research for example by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in classrooms, by analysing the acoustic emission at schools or by taking the temperature in the refrigerator at home. By doing research themselves, young people gain interest in science and get to know scientific research methods and the work of researchers.

Vetenskap & Allämnhet, VA (Public & Science), an independent non-profit organisation fostering the dialogue between science and society, has been organising mass experiments in Sweden since 2009. The experiments were embedded and conducted in the frame of the European Researchers’ Nights, an annual science festival taking place all over Europe in September.

Thousands of pupils have been engaged in the experiments. Their teachers have received detailed instructions as well as background material and suggested reading. But not only young people and schools gain from mass experiments. For researchers, such collaborations offer the opportunity to obtain large amounts of new data from different locations with relatively little effort.

Mass experiments usually get substantial media attention which promotes both the participating researchers and the festival itself. The experiment participants and their families are also likely to visit a Researchers’ Night event.

However, in order to gain from mass experiments there are difficulties to overcome. Based on experiences from organising mass experiments in Sweden, the paper presents approaches of how best to design mass experiments, to find researchers to collaborate with, to attract young participants, to reach and inform school teachers and to present the results.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Engaging young people in mass experiments
Experiences from sweden

Cissi Askwall   Public & Science

Heidi Armbruster-Domeyer   Public & Science

Karin Hermansson   Public & Science

Lotta Tomasson   Public & Science

Engaging young people with research is the most important aim of mass experiments. School students themselves can conduct scientific research for example by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in classrooms, by analysing the acoustic emission at schools or by taking the temperature in the refrigerator at home. By doing research themselves, young people gain interest in science and get to know scientific research methods and the work of researchers.

Vetenskap & Allämnhet, VA (Public & Science), an independent non-profit organisation fostering the dialogue between science and society, has been organising mass experiments in Sweden since 2009. The experiments were embedded and conducted in the frame of the European Researchers’ Nights, an annual science festival taking place all over Europe in September.

Thousands of pupils have been engaged in the experiments. Their teachers have received detailed instructions as well as background material and suggested reading. But not only young people and schools gain from mass experiments. For researchers, such collaborations offer the opportunity to obtain large amounts of new data from different locations with relatively little effort.

Mass experiments usually get substantial media attention which promotes both the participating researchers and the festival itself. The experiment participants and their families are also likely to visit a Researchers’ Night event.

However, in order to gain from mass experiments there are difficulties to overcome. Based on experiences from organising mass experiments in Sweden, the paper presents approaches of how best to design mass experiments, to find researchers to collaborate with, to attract young participants, to reach and inform school teachers and to present the results.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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