British Science Week: Prioritising Public Engagement

13th March 2018
British Science Week

Science engagement is an important topic across the science sectors; biotech, pharma, agriculture and green energy to name a few. Whatever the aim of your organisation, increasing public engagement in science can only be a positive; enhancing understanding of your aims, increasing training opportunities to produce skilled individuals valuable to your company, greater brand awareness and more funding opportunities. This week is British Science Week (9-18th March), an annual 10-day event featuring a range of activities across the country, and providing a great example of the use of technology and interactive activities to engage the public with science.

A big success from last year’s science week was ‘Run to the Solar System’, a virtual reality 10km race which can be completed anywhere at any time and narrates your journey through space as you run. This year ‘Run to the deep’ builds on this popularity with a similar run, this time talking you on a journey from the sea’s surface down to the depths as you pound the pavements, or treadmill, wherever you are.

Another activity open to everyone is the citizen science project, which this year focusses on the ever growing need to minimise plastic waste. As we saw in Blue Planet II, levels of plastic in the world’s oceans are causing huge problems for wildlife. This project from Zooniverse aims to create a machine learning algorithm to identify rubbish on the nation’s beaches using photos taken by drones. Members of the public are shown these images and asked to highlight pieces of plastic which will then be used to programme the software so that it is able to recognise plastic itself in the future. The goal is to help us understand not only where the litter goes but also what type of plastic, and how much, is accumulating.

Showcasing and applying new technologies is a clear theme across multiple events at this year’s science week, and is a fantastic demonstration of how these technologies can be used not just in furthering scientific research and developments, but also in engaging the public with this progress. The opportunities to communicate the latest research with the public are constantly improving and expanding; with school events, science festivals and even stages at some of the major music festivals all getting involved. It is increasingly important to make the most of these opportunities and use imaginative techniques and modern technologies to engage a wider audience and get the public behind your organisation.

To find out more about British Science Week and the events and activities on offer in your area click here.