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Speaking science at a music competition – with 135,000 attendees

Competition-goers in neon costume benefit from the scene in Glastonbury. Festivals are a spot of celebration not just for music and artwork, but additionally for science.Credit score: Ian Gavan / Getty

In February 2017, Helen Currie joined a group of researchers throughout a UK competition tour to share the affect of her analysis with folks exterior her subject. Currie research the affect of sound on the habits of migratory fish. He’s at the moment in his fourth yr of doctorate on the College of Southampton, UK.

How did you break into scientific communication?

Among the occasions I attended throughout the first yr of my Ph.D. didn’t have the anticipated affect. After we sat beneath a gazebo in a park with an indication, nobody stopped to speak to us, which was discouraging. At an ecology competition in Southampton, my group and I discovered our rhythm. We obtained feedback from environmentally aware guests who felt that our analysis on how dams, dams and different buildings might harm migratory fish ecosystems would have an actual affect on infrastructure growth. extra sustainable rivers.

How do you have interaction folks in your analysis?

After our first occasions, we discovered that our actions wanted to be concrete and interactive. So we created, with the assistance of different folks from the College of Southampton, a marble monitor consisting of a custom-built sloping construction on which marbles. These cross a sequence of limitations, akin to doorways, interstices, aspect channels and plastic pins. The logs symbolize fish, and the race itself is a river, with limitations representing issues harmful to the fish, akin to hydroelectric generators or locations the place water is intentionally faraway from the river to manage floods or for irrigation. Members can modify the hydrographic system to make it extra pleasant or hostile to fish. We problem the contributors to get as many fish as potential into the marble runway as we clarify our analysis.

We then joined the general public engagement roadshow of our college. This ongoing undertaking encourages researchers to share their work with the general public. Each summer time, the roadshow travels to a number of occasions within the UK, together with music festivals.

Which music festivals did you attend?

An important competition was the 2017 Glastonbury Competition, a five-day occasion that drew 135,000 contributors. Lately, competition organizers have invited UK universities to current a few of their analysis within the science tent. Our group shared the tent with a number of different universities. I’ve additionally introduced my work at Inexperienced Man, an artwork competition in Crickhowell, Wales, which invitations researchers and universities to use for an area in a devoted scientific subject.

Helen Currie presents her analysis on migratory fish at a competition within the UK to lift public consciousness.Credit score: Gerardo Espindola Garcia

What does it imply to be a scientific facilitator throughout these occasions?

It may be logistically tough since you are in a subject, not in a constructing. You actually have to consider the exercise you carry with you. How a lot does it weigh? Do you want a supply of meals? But it surely's additionally very enjoyable. All Glastonbury presenters had ready a key message about their undertaking to share with guests, easy sufficient for different presenters to deal with and clarify. So, if we wished to see a band play, we might briefly give the duty to a different presenter and experiment a part of the competition by ourselves. There have been a lot of nice bands that yr, however my favourite was Royal Blood.

Are folks stunned to search out science at a music competition?

Individuals these days are likely to count on extra than simply music. Glastonbury has comedies, poetry readings and artwork installations, so that a science tent integrates properly. Individuals come to realize expertise and studying seems to be a secondary consequence. And science might be not the strangest factor you could find at a music competition. Some folks requested us why we have been there, so we defined what we had completed and the significance of giving again. Many public funds go to scientific analysis. It's good to exit and inform folks what their taxes are spent on and why.

Who visits science?

It's so assorted. Some folks hear a few science tent and are actively in search of it. Others wander by way of the competition and cross it. There’s additionally a variety of ages, starting from households with kids, to teams of associates, to older couples and to solitary vacationers.

How do you swap your message between these totally different guests?

Individuals will inform you when they are going to know extra about you. Even when speaking to kids, you’ll not be stunned at what they already know. However you don’t want to play too excessive and danger complicated or annoying somebody, so it’s higher to begin decrease and lift the extent as you go alongside. You may have very lengthy conversations that approach. Typically I went away after studying one thing myself. For instance, one fisherman I spoke to referred to the three-spine stickleback fish as "bramstickle", a time period I had by no means heard earlier than. Since then I’ve found that within the British Isles there are at the very least 70 totally different dialectical phrases for a similar species of fish.

What did you find out about science communication by way of your competition expertise?

It actually helped me to have an summary of my analysis. I believe we’re generally caught within the "area of interest" of what we do, however speaking to folks at music festivals actually helped me get again to the important thing query of analysis.

What do you advise colleagues who need to share their analysis at the same occasion?

Simply strive. You get a lot when it comes to folks's feedback. You understand that you’ve an affect and the conversations you’ve with folks make you consider your search otherwise. So, if in case you have the chance, get entangled.

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