Day 2 of Blogtober and I’m still going strong.. today’s post is all about Explorathon, and my experiences of the event this year in Aberdeen.
Explorathon is also known as European Researchers’ Night, and it’s a European Commission initiative aiming to encourage researchers to step away from the university to engage with the public and talk about the research that they do. Usually Explorathon is one night, but Aberdeen’s events this year spanned 3 days from Thursday 27th to Saturday 29th September 2018. I attended one event, and then took part in the presentation of one event, more details below.
On Friday 28th I attended my first PechaKucha event because my friend and colleague, Beatriz Goulao, was speaking at the event. I’d never been to a PechaKucha event before, and it was brilliant! A PechaKucha talk is made up of 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds, whilst the speakers gives their talk. The scary part is that the images advance automatically – the speaker can’t stop them! For more information on the format of PechaKucha talks, take a look here.
Beatriz’s talk focussed on health research and how people can use research evidence to help them to make decisions about the healthcare that they receive. It was absolutely brilliant, and lovely to see a friend and colleague sharing work from our field with such passion!
Other PechaKucha highlights included Hilary Nicholl, who talked about Aberdeen’s Look Again Festival, Emma Beaton, who explained her research in the Falkland Islands, and Sol Milne, who talked about his work using drones and citizen science to survey orangutan nests in Borneo.
Explorathon in the City Centre
On Saturday 29th I took part in Explorathon along with colleagues from HSRU’s Public Engagement Group, we ran an event similar to the one we held at May Festival and TechFest last year – a simulated trial using sweets as our ‘interventions’.
It was a brilliant day, exhausting (10-4pm standing in the Aberdonian streets leaves you pretty cold!), but I had a really good time speaking to people about the work that we do at the Health Services Research Unit.
The thing that struck me was that I learn something each time I do face to face public engagement – people always have different ways of interpreting and understanding what we’re talking to them about, so there’s no ‘right’ way to phrase things. At Explorathon I felt much more confident than I had at previous events, and managed to get into some really rich discussions with the public. People were open-minded and eager to learn more about what we do, and when I said that I had just finished my PhD there were people I’d never even met before congratulating me – that felt lovely, and as usual I came away from a full day of public engagement feeling all warm and fuzzy.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again for those that missed it – every single researcher should be doing public engagement. Whether you are an early career researcher, or you’ve been leading your own group for years; every event is different, each audience member is unique, and you learn quickly how to talk about your field of interest.