Taking science infrastructures to festivals: engaging the unengaged public where they least expect it
04 Feb 2019



Roger Jones, Lancaster University




Parallel Session 7​: Finding the next science superstar
Wednesday 10 April 10:15 - 12:0​0​​

CERN and in particular the ATLAS experiment are major research infrastructures that provide an excellent opportunity for public engagement that can spin out far beyond the particle physics remit and reach new and previously unaccessed audiences.

Over the past several years, a team based around the ATLAS Experiment at CERN in Geneva has organised public engagement and education activities at a variety of non-scientific venues. These have included the Montreux Jazz Festival (Montreux, Switzerland), the Bluedot Festival (Jodrell Bank, UK), the WOMAD Festival (Charlton Park, UK), Moogfest (Durham, NC, USA), and the Sofia Music Weeks in Bulgaria, the Waterfire Festival in Providence, R.I., USA and discussions on-going with a major European music festival. The goal of this effort is to engage new audiences who normally would not be dr​awn to science festivals and to investigate our ability to communicate scientific messages to broad, diverse audiences.

The results have been impressive, as measured through attendance (example: the first Physics Pavilion at WOMAD received 4500 visitors over 3 days and such was the success that a return invitation was received immediately for 2017 with additional space, resulting in an increased footfall of ~5500), and enthusiasm of the audience and the scientists hosting the activities. 

We describe the presentation material and format, the hands-on workshops, and other methods employed, as well as lessons learned on how to best optimise audience engagement. The concept can be reproduced for other festival-like environments, and adapted to suit the particular audience demographic and format of the festival. 


Contact: Fletcher, Sara (STFC,RAL,ISIS)