The Researchers’ Night is an event promoted and financed by the European Commission under its Seventh Framework Programme and by local Foundations.
It takes place every year (since 2006) on the last Friday of September simultaneously in hundreds of European cities (in Piedmont, from 3 in 2006 to 8 in 2011).
2012 will be the 7th edition of the Researchers’ Night in Torino and Piedmont. This year will cover also another region: the Aosta Valley.
The Researcher’s Night is an established tradition in Torino and in other participating towns, which the public is eagerly awaiting and expecting as the annual appointment that meets the specific scientific vocation of our territory.
The main objective of the project is to enhance public recognition of researchers and their work through the offer to the public of large opportunities to discover their “human face” and share with them experiments, passions, concerns, problems, hobbies, fun, etc.
The general aims of the project are declined into specific objectives:
- Enhance researchers’ public recognition by tackling the existing stereotypes about their profession;
- Actively involve people in the event, both through organised activities and public debates dedicated to the role of researchers in society in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere;
- Allow researchers to meet young people and students and boost the attraction of scientific careers, through specific activities;
- Raise the awareness of researchers on the importance of communication and the consequent need of specific skills;
- Point out the European support in favour of researchers and research, and the European dimension of the event;
- Share good practices and type of activities most effective towards the achievement of the objectives;
- Share all materials via web: www.nottedeiricercatori.it/piemonte
The target of the Researchers’ Night is the general public with special attention to young people and and the various stakeholders involved in production and dissemination of scientific knowledge.
The latest numbers of the project are:
- 500 researchers directly involved in performing and animating the event
- 2500 questionnaires on its impact
- 13000/15000 participants
- Number of students and young people > 15% of the total affluence
- About 60 newspapers and on-line articles
- About 25000 unique visitors on web site
In 2012 the Researchers’ Night will take place in Piedmont and Aosta Valley, in 8 cities: Torino, Alessandria, Aosta, Biella, Cuneo, Novara, Verbania and Vercelli. Each city has a main location where the researchers will display their activities: in some city the activities are hosted in open air venues, such as squares or gardens, other cities will open the doors of Universities, Research Centres and Science Museums. In the main location, Torino, the event is organised in several locations (indoor and outdoor), connected each other via shuttle buses (among which historical tramways) leaving from the main location: Piazza Castello, a magnificent pedestrian square deemed to be the political and the geographical centre of Torino.
The Night has a sustained rhythm thanks to different activities, performed in different venues at different time: each activity beats the time of the Night, allowing the involvement of different targets of public.
Every year the Researcher’s Night in Piedmont receives an increasing number of proposals from the researchers. The activities performed are classified in 5 different types: Games, Meetings and conferences, Exhibitions and installations, Laboratories and interactive experiences, Theatre and plays.
In Torino, about 45 proposals were identified last year, balancing both the disciplines (Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Genetics, Earth Sciences, Language Science, Food science, Music and Art, Architecture, Engineering) and the proponents (Universities, Science Museums, Research Centres and Companies) considering also their own dimension. The most interesting novelties of the last edition was the introduction of the Coffee corner for science: a special corner in the square was set-up as an informal location where the public could meet the researchers and interact with them. The researchers have had the chance to “book” a 10 minutes-slot during which they held a short multimedia presentation, followed by a debate with the public, drinking a beer or a coffee.
Another important activity is “Pizza with the Prof”. Young and communicative researchers, together with experienced scientists are invited to join Pizza with the prof. Heritage of ESOF2010, this initiative offers a selection of high school students a unique occasion to exchange and share ideas, proposals and opinions on scientific implications of everyday life and their future, debating with first class science professionals. The idea is to give the scientists the possibility to act as role-models and provide the younger generations with the instruments necessary to build a renewed relationship between science and society. Young people have a unique occasion to interact with top-notch scientists and science communicators, and to get new motivations for their future careers.
In all the cities specific activities for children such as theatre plays, games, scientific treasure hunts and, in Torino, the Rally of Science are held.
According to our questionnaires, since its first edition in 2006 the Researchers’ Night in Piedmont has contributed and continues to contribute to enhancing the public’s recognition of researchers and of their work.
In addition, these results are obtained with amusement and the event is expected and appreciated by the public with regard to organization, venues, schedules and staff; a reliable alternative to “traditional” Friday night activities.
56% of the participants believe that scientists working in universities or government laboratories are the most qualified people to communicate science and its ethical implication to society (consistent with the results of the Eurobarometer on Science and Technology, dated June 2010).
Regarding the types of activities that proved the most effective towards the achievement of the objectives, experiments conducted directly by researchers are among the ones most appreciated by the public (46%).
The experience of Agorà Scienza to conduct research on the relationship between science and society, science communication and best public engagement and education practices ensures a special attention to the main objective of evaluating these results over the time.