South Wales Physics Road Shows
The aim of this project was to increase public engagement in physics, reaching a new target audience by taking a physics road show to shopping centres. This project was supported by an IoP Public Engagement Grant.
• Raise public awareness of and engagement with contemporary physics
• Inspire and enthuse public audiences, especially those not previously interested in physics
• Reach audiences beyond the classroom
Summary of activity:
Techniquest visited three shopping centres in South Wales located in socially and economically deprived areas. By presenting physics in a public venue, Techniquest allowed people the flexibility to participate on their own terms. Visitors were able to experiment with mini-exhibits and / or participate in short, interactive, presenter-led shows. Due to the informal setting, visitors had the opportunity to question / speak with the presenters. Techniquest also handed out the ‘Techniquest Little Book of Tricks’ to visitors who wanted to continue to experiment and experience physics at home.
So as to not scare off people from participating in the activities, the presenters did not administer a formal, written questionnaire. Instead, the presenters kept track of the number of individuals that they interacted with. In total, at least 2,536 people took park in the activities. There may have been more such as those watching from a distance, however these were not counted.
What went well:
1. Taking the road shows into local communities
2. Basing the road shows in locations where people already go – shopping centres
3. Working closely with the shopping centre management team. They helped to market the event within the shopping centre for a couple of weeks before it actually took place.
What was learned:
1. Take the activity to where people are already going rather than inviting them to somewhere they normally don’t visit. This will help with the overall success of the event.
2. Use simple busking activities, like those published by the IoP. It is usually the very simple, but very visual that works best.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Don’t force people to participate – let them participate on their own terms, even if that only means they watch what is going on from a distance.