Energise! at the Glasgow Science Centre

Project aims:

The aim was to highlight ways that you and your family can engage in physical activity and the positive effects this has on your body.


Energise! aimed to coincide with the Olympic games and raise awareness among visitors and schools of the positive impact of physical activity on your health and wellbeing.

Summary of activity:

The core programme included an exhibition (11 exhibits where visitors could test their speed, accuracy, strength, endurance – examples include ‘Aim’ visitors aimed balls into various buckets; Hang time – how long can you hang?; a climbing frame); a science show – Game On! encouraging competition among groups; Early Years Sports Day Trail; 10 ‘Challenge of the week’, for example how long can you balance on one leg; a photo competition; and a series of events .
The events included:
1. Animal Athletes (Easter Weeekend). Launching our new Science Show, Game On and a programme that challenged visitors to be as agile and fast as animals.
2. Ottobock Exhibition (17th April to 9th May) – The Exhibition was focused on prosthetics and the paralympians that will be utilizing prosthetics in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
3. Knowing Sport (30th June). Run by Sports Scientists from Glasgow University visitors worked with the experts on challenges to look at their heart rate response, lung function and sprint speeds. The experts were able to answer visitors questions and feedback was extremely positive, especially from adults who stated that they had discovered something new and were always learning
4. Move It! (Jubilee weekend). The floors were filled with experts and performers offering additional workshops and drops in around the theme of movement and dance.Scottish Ballet, Street Dance and Hula hoop workshops were all provided to encourage visitors to understand the positive physical effects that dance has on your body and to try out a new skill.
5. Cool Science (Fair weekend). Experiments and demonstrations at low temperatures including a snow sledging slope and Parkour workshops.
Sub-zero demonstrations with liquid nitrogen and dry ice
Meet some Snowy Owls with our friends from Hoot Owls
Awesome street running and stunts from Glasgow Parkour. Try out this art for yourself
Meet Darthâ imperial guard
Stilt walkers and circus skills from Bright Night
Live broadcast from Clyde 1 with Noxy
Running tips from an expert from Decathlon
Rock climbing on the 7 metre wall packed with climbing holds and features.
6. Under the Skin (21st-22nd July).
Working with expert scientists and trainers at ICSEMIS preolympic conference to support their knowledge exchange programme, 6 additional meet the expert sessions per day were available for visitor to engage with:
Taking part in a Zambian Sports Day
Trying a game of Boccia (paralympic sport) and learn about disability sports
Pedometre challenge
Find out how a racing wheelchair is designed
Examine the workings of a running bike and have a go
Meet experts from Decathlon to examine your walking and running gait.
Achieving the Impossible (Professor Greg Whyte) lecture
Olympians seem to achieve impossible feats of physical performance that appear beyond the common man. Whilst it is true that elite performers possess unique abilities it does not mean that achieving the impossible is out of reach for the rest of us. Having trained the likes of David Walliams to swim the English Channel and the length of the Thames; Eddie Izzard to run 43 Marathons in 51 days; and Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles to climb Kilimanjaro, I know that anything is possible. I will let you into the secrets of success and in doing so hopefully inspire you to achieve the impossible.
Running Beyond Limits (Dr Andrew Murray)
Andrew Murray has raced in some of the world’s toughest and most beautiful environments, from the North Pole, to the high Himalaya, from the jungle’s on Indonesia to the Sahara desert. In 2011 he ran 2659 miles from John O’Groats to the Sahara desert. During this run, he ate enough food for a 750kg crocodile, and used more than 20 pairs of socks, running 102 marathons in 78 days. Find out what Andrew has planned next, and ask him questions about his adventures!!!

7. Gravity Games (11th-12th August)
This weekend focused around gravity sports and gravity defying feats from performers and sports people. The weekend included:
Science On Ice (Gillian Cooke, Bob Sleigh World Champion and Winter Olympian)- An inside look at the life of an Olympic athlete including the science and technology of the training and racing and equipment behind a medal winning performance on the Formula 1 of ice.
Savage Skills- Bike displays and amazing feats on BMX bikes defying gravity.
Forest track- a full bike forest track was created outside on the turning circle and visitors were challenged to try out their biking skills.
GE provided meet the expert engineers who worked with visitors to deconstruct a bike and begin to understand the engineering behind it.

Evaluation approach:

We carried out front-end, formative and summative evaluation of Energise! In particular, we tested each of the 11 new exhibits prior to the opening of the exhibition (front-end evaluation); formative and summative evaluation was based on a mix of observations and 1:1 interviews with over 200 visitors at various times including week-ends and public holidays. We assessed the impact of Energise! both externally (with visitors) and internally (with staff).

What went well:

1. 73% of visitors rated Energise excellent with another 24% good; Learning outcome - 90% of visitors understood that Energise was about fitness/positive impacts of physical activity we achieved the overall learning outcome; A third of visitors had heard of Energise through external communications (website; emails to members; leaflets; side of busses);

2. Visibility was very good 95% of total numbers of visitors to the GSC came to the Clyde Suite; the mix of exhibits was good so that there was something for everyone (for example, parents could show their children what traditional games they used to play at school.

3. Visitors liked the fact that Energise was new/additional to the Science Mall ("A good addition to the science centre"), it was inclusive ("Everyone can get involved, young, old, male, female. There is something for everybody. You can see everyone is having fun!) and varied ("I think the whole area is excellent! It�s got so many different things!)

What was learned:

1. Evaluation: Prototyping and evaluating exhibits prior to opening allowed many modifications to be made. Evaluation was carried out on an ongoing basis -coordinated by the Evaluation Coordinator, evaluation was also carried out by volunteers and supported by the team of Science Communicators. This ensured that information was regularly gathered and gave Science Communicators a different experience.

2. The Key Events allowed a good focus for Meet the Expert activity and continue to help us support Universities and Industry to deliver their Knowledge Exchange programmes . For example, Knowing Sport was Run by Sports Scientists from Glasgow University. Visitors worked with the experts on challenges to look at their heart rate response, lung function and sprint speeds. The experts were able to answer visitors questions and feedback was extremely positive, especially from adults who stated that they �had discovered something new and were always learning�.

3. The outside exhibition area worked well as part of the overall exhibition but free outdoor attractions (eg ski slope, climbing wall) were difficult to attract visitors to. Most visitors wanted to come into the building and only leave to go outside through the building (ie the Clyde Suite)

Top tips and advice for others

1.Always carry out front-end, formative and summative evaluation as part of all projects.

2.Assess the learning outcomes to ensure that visitors do learn from the project.


Additional events run by external partners/experts add to the offer. Our Meet the Expert programme adds something new to Science Passport holders; parents said that their children's attention is grabbed better through these than simply using exhibits.

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About the contributor

Florence Edmond
Glasgow Science Centre

Evaluation Coordinator. I carry out front-end/formative and summative evaluations of all science communication programmes at Glasgow Science Centre. This may be in-reach events or outreach, temporary …

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