Einstein at Glastonbury


Project aims:

• Einstein Year presence at Glastonbury Festival, to include five performers, at least one with significant evaluation experience.

• Engagement of Glastonbury Festival attendees with physics in novel and entertaining manner. The performance at Glastonbury has a potential total audience of 100,000 people. This project aims to engage at least 1800 people in high-level involvement (demonstration of tricks and explanation of the science behind them) during the duration of the Festival, corresponding to 150 people per performer per day. Thousands more attendees will experience lower levels of engagement such as receipt of flyers and heightened awareness of physics generally.

• A visual record of the event consisting of festival goers’ written and pictorial representations of their attitudes towards physics.

• A final evaluation report outlining valuable insights and methods of best practice for similar future enterprises.

• Three media stories as a result of publicising Einstein at Glastonbury through the Institute of Physics.

Summary of activity:

Members of the Science Communication Unit at UWE took the 2005 Glastonbury Festival by storm with their innovative project Einstein at Glastonbury. The dynamic team of young science communicators delivered enthusiastic and oftentimes impromptu demonstrations, educating and entertaining the crowd with a variety of physics-based tricks. In homage to the theme of the festival, several of the demonstrations were music related, including the creation of musical instruments from everyday materials, such as coat-hangers and paper cups. This project was funded by the Institute of Physics (IoP) and NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) through a NESTA Einstein Year grant. A key aim of this project was to design and test an event format (and associated content) that would be transferable to many other venues and locations.

Evaluation approach:

• Stickers and giveaways to count metrics (number of people involved to various degrees)

• Observation and (written) recording of statements made by audience members

• ‘What is physics anyway?’ board

• Comment cards

What went well:

1: The levels of engagement experienced by participants were the highest observed by any of the team members at a public performance event.

2: the stall location (at Glastonbury Festival) attracted a normally ‘hard to reach’ audience (particularly non-specialist 16-30 year olds)

3: The stall was located in an area where participants had sufficient dwell time to consider the stall content, and where noise levels were appropriate to encourage conversation and interaction with the performers.

What was learned:

1. Take less equipment but more waterproof stuff!

About this project



Project type:

Started (approximately):

December 2004

Ended: (approximately)

June 2005

Tags for this project:

About the contributor

Karen Bultitude

The Science Communication Unit at UWE is internationally renowned for its diverse and innovative activities, designed to engage the public with science. We are also committed to training would-be scie…

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