The x-change 2011

Project aims:

To produce a series of entertaining science events with a group of volunteers


* Source researchers and science communicators for 4 daily 'highlights' shows at the British Science Festival

* Manage a team of volunteers

* Produce a podcast to add legacy to the event

* Draw a more diverse, local audience to the event that may not be aware of/attending the general British Science Festival programme.

Summary of activity:

The x-change is a popular annual feature of the British Science Festival. The Science in Society team, together with a team of 5 volunteers, sources speakers and demonstrations for a nightly highlights show which aims to bring the best of the British Science Festival to an adult audience.

This year, the British Science Festival was held at the University of Bradford and the x-change was held at the National Media Museum.

In a break from tradition, the x-change was held off-campus in the gaming gallery at the NMM – this change was made in order to attract a more diverse audience that may not visit the University campus.

Evaluation approach:

The x-change was evaluated by using audience comment cards (which were generally extremely positive) and asking for reflections on the event from speakers, volunteers and the event host.

What went well:

1. Wide variety of high-quality speakers were sourced which included a demonstration of robots, antique cameras, hypnosis as well as musical comedy and on-stage debates.

2. The event attracted a more diverse audience than in previous years

3. The events lend themselves well to a podcast format, this will definitely be repeated for next year

What was learned:

1. Do several site visits to the event venue and be very specific about your requirements and get several contacts

2. A change of venue can be very disruptive for Festival 'regulars' but can be a good gamble as it helped to attract a more diverse audience

Top tips and advice for others

1. If working with volunteers, get a good range of experiences as they can learn a lot form each other

2. Experiment with venues and formats as each can really alter the look and feel of the show

3. Be 100% certain of your venue's AV capabilities and agree on them well ahead of time to avoid last-minute surprises!

If you'd like to read the team blogs or listen to the podcasts, have a look at :

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About the contributor

Toby Shannon
British Science Association

I'm a Science in Society Officer at the British Science Association. I work with the Science in Society team organising the annual Conference, Media Fellowship Scheme and the x-change at the British S…

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