Each year at the beginning of June the University of Bath takes part in the Festival of Nature, the UK’s biggest celebration of the natural world. This year we here at the Public Engagement Unit are leading on an exciting experiment to create what we think is the UK’s first virtual science festival as part of Festival of Nature and we want you to get involved.
Digital engagement with the natural world
As part of our work with a Digital Festival of Nature we want to try and experiment with how we might engage festival goers with the natural world on a digital platform and today we are opening up a call for anyone who might be interested to get involved.
But what could that digital engagement look like? Well, we’ve been having a think and have come up with some ideas to get the creative juices going:
Ask Me Anything
Inspired by Ask Me Anything hosted on Reddit, the digital platform can host a chat space where festival-goers are invited to spend a couple of hours asking you questions about your work.
Do you want to answer questions in person? Be part of a live hosted discussion where you answer questions submitted online from the festival audience. This hosted question and answer format between you and a host is a great way to enable festival-goers to feel at ease at asking questions about your work. To get a feel for it the Natural History Museum have an archive of their #NHM_Live Facebook Live events.
Lab tour video
Take festival-goers into your lab to find out what goes on behind the scenes of your research.
Bring together your colleagues to discuss a topic inspired by the Festival of Nature, this could be pre-recorded ahead of the Festival and to engage festival-goers you could be available for an online chat with participants following up with the content discussed during the event.
From the Field
Want to enthuse festival-goers about your work in the field? How about live streaming from a field site illustrating your work From the Field.
Shine the spotlight on one specimen showcasing the natural history of that specimen, it could be anything, share what you know and what fascinates you about your research
Make use of those photos in your folders or locked away on your phone by creating an exhibition of images that relate to your research. With our help creating labels you could curate an exhibition of photos that inform festival-goers about your research. This could be simillar to the Images of Research competition.
Do you have a demonstration or a technique you use that could be easily replicated at home for virtual festival-goers? It could be a ‘how-to-guide’ to simple and easy field studies techniques or a demonstration to illustrate some of the key concepts in your research. The Exploratorium at San Francisco have some great examples of creating guides and videos of demonstration such as Science Snacks and How to Build a Sun Viewer.
Creating short and engaging videos that demonstrate and illustrate your research are an excellent way to use the digital platform, using these as prompts you could host a live online Q+A with viewers to discover more about the content from the videos. Check out the videos created by the Okeanos Explorer team on their expedition exploring the deep sea in the Pacific Ocean or The Brain Scoop from Chicago's Field Museum.
Want to take part?
These are just some of our suggestions but we bet that you can do better! Do you have any ideas you would like to test out and do for a virtual science festival? The best ideas will be supported by the Public Engagement Unit to deliver at the virtual festival. If you’d like to find out more we are hosting a workshop on Tuesday 30 April between 2-4pm at the Milner Centre for Evolution Seminar Room 1.05. If you would like to find out more about the Digital Festival of Nature or have an idea you’d like to discuss with us drop us an email email@example.com
Dean Veall is Deputy Head of Public Engagement