Explorathon 2016 - reflections

This year for me has been building up to producing a Curiosity Forest that has a legacy. Working with Beltane Public Engagement to connect researchers, provide training opportunities and invite them to take part in public engagement events.


Having worked with a range of researchers over three training sessions in the run up to this years event I really felt that the Curiosity Forest was building a community. The researchers I worked with were diverse in their respective fields of study but united in their enthusiasm and creativity. I couldn't have been happier with the process when I realised a room full of PhD candidates were throwing themselves fully into making sock puppets for our public speaking training. It really was a sight for sore eyes.

Widening training opportunities meant that volunteers for the event also included masters and undergrad students as well as a retired scientist and storyteller. It was fanstatic to have a huge range of talent present across the weekend.

The partnership with Beltane and Explorathon came from my reaslisation that adults could benefit directly from the Curiosity Forest without needing to bring children. Watching parents interact with activities last year reminded me that outside-the-box-thinking events should not be solely for children and their grown-ups. Friday 30th September included all the researchers you could have asked for, snappy storytelling, hands-on activities, colouring-in and event a science ceilidh.

Saturday and Sunday reverted back to a family-friendly audience while still encouraging adults to engage in science and art. As the weekend progressed from an Explorathon (European researcher based) event into a Fun Palace (community arts and science) we saw more activities from non-researchers including storytellers, our own illustrator, Blair Drummond Safari park, Glasgow Science Centre and the RSPB. Blending current research with more familiar scientific outreach worked well and provided a nice balance to the day.

Over the course of the weekend five hundred and eighty eight people took part - which was brilliant of course. Though I know next year we can get even more people involved in the event and I look forward to welcoming back this years exhibitors, meeting news ones and continuing to provide training opportunities that encourage us all to play with science.

An enormous thank you goes out to everyone who helped over the past few months, visited, exhibited or helped make a woodland.


Photo credit: Chris Scott