‘Pubs are more comfy than lecture theatres!’: Science festival set for Manchester’s bars and ale houses

Scientists are all set to venture out of their labs to take over pubs around Manchester and get people talking about science.

From the May 23-25, the University of Manchester will be hosting the local branch of the international science festival Pint of Science.

The festival consists of 15 talks – taking place in five pubs, over three days – and event coordinator and PhD student Hannah Roberts wants to make it clear that it’s not just for scientists.

A pub may seem like a bizarre choice for a lecture, but Pint of Science is all about breaking stereotypes and making science more approachable to the public – and according to Hannah this radical new approach to science communication is already having an effect.

“When the festival began in 2013 it was mostly attended by academics from the science community,” she told MM.

“Since then there’s been a rise in members of the public taking an interest – last year there was around a 50/50 split between general public and academics attending.

“It’s about creating a relaxed, welcoming environment for people who aren’t used to science and allowing them to engage with the subject.

“A pub is much more comfortable than a lecture theatre.”

But Pint of Science isn’t just about engaging with the audience.

It’s equally beneficial for the speakers, who are required to present their research throughout their PHD.

“It’s an excellent way for researchers to get their work into a format that people can understand that doesn’t come across as jargon,” she said.

“It helps them communicate their work in a scientific way as well, which is great practice for conferences.”

PHD student and beauty blogger Sophie Powell has first-hand experience of how beneficial the festival can be, having spoken at the event last year.

Sophie, who runs a beauty blog called The Scientific Beauty, presented Drugs and Cosmetics, aimed at debunking beauty myths, and told MM that the festival is well worth checking out.

“It was a really great experience – often people without a science background have interesting ways of looking at things too, so it’s always great to engage in conversation with people who may come at your work from a completely different angle,” she said.

“I would definitely encourage scientists out there to consider giving this a go.

“It’s fine hiding behind a computer screen or in a lab but sometimes it’s better to get out there and tell people face to face why science is so interesting.”

For Sophie, Pint of Science is more than just a means of sharing her research – she wants to change how scientists are perceived by the public.

“Studies have been done where children are asked to draw a scientist and the overwhelming majority will draw a white man, with mad hair and glasses,” she said.

“By visibly engaging with the public about science we can help to change these assumptions.

“By turning up at a pub to talk about science in an accessible way we can hopefully show that we are just normal people too.

“Part of the fun is turning up to an event and coming away knowing more about an area of science than you did when you arrived.”

Tickets are still available for the Pint of Science festival but will sell out fast according to coordinator Hannah

For more information click here.

Image courtesy of Pint of Science, via YouTube, with thanks

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