In the UK, activities aimed at engaging with people with an existing interest in science have proliferated and are being carried out in ever more innovative ways. The use of comedy, music, web, games and crafts as vehicles to celebrate and communicate science means its now arguably much more fashionable to be into science – its “chic to be a geek”.
But are such projects merely “preaching to the converted”, and does that matter? What is being done to engage those who would not identify themselves as being interested in science, and what are the challenges inherent in working with these new audiences?
This session looks at some of the current trends in science communication in the UK and discusses how effective “science by stealth” approaches can be.
The Wellcome Trust is one of the UK’s main funders of public engagement with science activity and has funded a number of projects aiming to engage new audiences with biomedical science.
Case studies considered in this presentation will include 3 projects recently commissioned by The Wellcome Trust:
1. The Decontamination Chamber
An installation in the late night field at Glastonbury music festival which used a fictional virus outbreak storyline to make people think about what it means to be physically and mentally dirty. Visitors engaged with microbiologists and psychiatrists and underwent a unique and memorable festival experience. Produced by Shangri-La Glastonbury and Guerilla Science.
2. Evolving Words
Stand up poetry project for young people. Aspiring poets worked with science experts and established poets in 6 cities to create and perform new works inspired by the life and legacy of Charles Darwin. Produced by Elizabeth Lynch.
3.Threads and Yarns
Groups of seniors worked with undergraduate textiles students and oral historians to create a new interactive textile artwork incorporating their own recollections about changes in health and wellbeing over their lifetimes. Produced by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
The session will review what worked and what did not work about these projects and suggest some future directions for innovative public engagement.
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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science in non-science spaces- experiments in engaging with new audiences

Amy Sanders   The Wellcome Trust

In the UK, activities aimed at engaging with people with an existing interest in science have proliferated and are being carried out in ever more innovative ways. The use of comedy, music, web, games and crafts as vehicles to celebrate and communicate science means its now arguably much more fashionable to be into science – its “chic to be a geek”.
But are such projects merely “preaching to the converted”, and does that matter? What is being done to engage those who would not identify themselves as being interested in science, and what are the challenges inherent in working with these new audiences?
This session looks at some of the current trends in science communication in the UK and discusses how effective “science by stealth” approaches can be.
The Wellcome Trust is one of the UK’s main funders of public engagement with science activity and has funded a number of projects aiming to engage new audiences with biomedical science.
Case studies considered in this presentation will include 3 projects recently commissioned by The Wellcome Trust:
1. The Decontamination Chamber
An installation in the late night field at Glastonbury music festival which used a fictional virus outbreak storyline to make people think about what it means to be physically and mentally dirty. Visitors engaged with microbiologists and psychiatrists and underwent a unique and memorable festival experience. Produced by Shangri-La Glastonbury and Guerilla Science.
2. Evolving Words
Stand up poetry project for young people. Aspiring poets worked with science experts and established poets in 6 cities to create and perform new works inspired by the life and legacy of Charles Darwin. Produced by Elizabeth Lynch.
3.Threads and Yarns
Groups of seniors worked with undergraduate textiles students and oral historians to create a new interactive textile artwork incorporating their own recollections about changes in health and wellbeing over their lifetimes. Produced by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
The session will review what worked and what did not work about these projects and suggest some future directions for innovative public engagement.

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

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