Making science fun for everyone

Issue date: 07 February 2008

Walking with Robots It is critical that researchers working on cutting edge projects that impact on our daily lives learn how to communicate sometimes complicated new ideas and discoveries in an accessible way. This activity, known as public engagement, is now seen as an important component in science research dissemination to inform and broaden public awareness and understanding.

Alan Winfield and Claire Rocks, from the University of the West of England have secured £49,216 from the EPSRC Partnerships for Public Engagement fund to run a three-day residential workshop to help young researchers come up with innovative and exciting ways to promote cutting edge research at public events.

The workshops will be held at At-Bristol from 18 to 20 February 2008 and will be attended by researchers with expertise in robotics, animatronics and artificial intelligence.

Claire Rocks from the Science Communication Unit at UWE is organising the workshops, she explains, “We are going to combine research from different fields in order to provide a carousel of events that will eventually be shown at science festivals.

“The three day course at At Bristol will afford young researchers some time to consider how they might communicate science to a wider audience. They will learn about conception of ideas, funding, evaluation and running events. At the end of the workshop the participants will showcase their ideas at a special event at At Bristol on 20 February 2008. The ideas that work well will then be shown at other national Science Festivals including the British Association, Cheltenham and Imagineering Fairs.”

Claire Rocks coordinates the very successful public engagement programme, 'Walking with Robots' and she says that it is critical that more young researchers are encouraged to promote robotics and it's relevance to life in the 21st century. "Advances in robotics are some of the most important developments happening right now – and it is critical that we researchers proactively seek to engage the wider world by showing how what we do impacts on everyday issues. By engaging researchers at the start of their careers we hope to help them develop clear communications strategies that will highlight their work to a much wider audience.”


Editors notes

UWE and the University of Bristol jointly run the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

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