SUPA launched a new Public Engagement Network on 8th September at Heriot Watt University. Researchers from across SUPA gathered to discuss how SUPA can support public engagement with physics in Scotland.
The event opened with a panel session on Considerations for Public Engagement chaired by Siân Bevan. Grant McAllister introduced SSERC and stressed its role in providing support and resources for teachers across Scotland. Aidan Robson and Helen Cammack discussed the challenges and opportunities inherent in taking part in public engagement activities as an academic. Both are enthusiastic supporters of SSERC. Stephen Breslin CEO of the Glasgow Science Centre spoke about Science as culture and the need for a science centre to create enjoyment and enthusiasm (which lead to repeat visits) Heather Earnshaw introduced the IoP’s improving gender balance project by graphically illustrating the audience’s gender bias. A lively discussion followed.
The day was designed to create new connections between SUPA members and attendees were invited to exhibit their outreach work. Exhibit highlights included virtual reality astronomy (Alastair Bruce and Prof Andy Lawrence) and Prof Stuart Reid’s exhibit on nano-kicking stem cells as well as displays from IoP Scotland and SSERC.
The morning session was rounded off by a discussion of the potential future directions for the network, a JISC mail list has been created, and new subscribers are welcome. We have also created a public engagement wiki.
The event closed with two workshops, a Gentle Introduction to Public Engagement aimed at PhD students and facilitated by Siân Bevan and a workshop on Evaluation of Public Engagement given by Dr Eric Jensen.