The Pint of Science festival aims to deliver interesting and relevant talks on the latest science research in an accessible format to the public – mainly across bars and pubs. It provides a platform which allows for a discussion about research between those who carried it out and interested people who may have little or no prior knowledge of the subject. It is run mainly by volunteers and was established by a community of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in 2012.
- Encourage researchers to discuss their findings with the public.
- Enable a conversation between the researchers and the public in a relaxed setting.
Each Pint of Science event is curated by a local team of organizers, which comprises a group of volunteers, most often early-career scientists. A single Pint of Science event generally involves two or three scientific talks, that can take any shape – music, comedy, art, or more science. Presentations are generally 20–30 minutes long, to allow time for an active Q&A session and give the participants the opportunity to engage with the speakers, as well as an intermission if required.
Main Event Duration: Three days
The main festival takes place annually over three days in the month of May and events take place simultaneously in hundreds of venues across the world. Each day features three talks in three different venues at the same time, totalling 9 events for each team to organise throughout the festival.
Project Duration: Indefinitely Repeated
The Festival has had one edition per year since 2012 in several countries of the world.
2.1 Staff & Volunteers
Volunteer Requirements: Core team to organize the festival / Several volunteers during the events
Typically, a group of three to ten organizers take on representing and showcasing one of six themes: Beautiful Mind – neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology; Atoms to Galaxies – physics, chemistry, maths; Our Body – human biology, health, and medicine; Planet Earth – earth sciences, zoology, plant science; Tech Me Out – technology, engineering, and computing; and Our Society – sociology, law, history, policy. The event organisers are responsible for finding a single venue for the three evenings of the festival and for planning and running three separate events related to their chosen theme. Each city has three to six groups of organizers and hence three to six venues. There is a further handful of coordinators who manage and guide the teams within their city and link back to the central team that manages the entire festival, including the website, publicity, and merchandise.
2.2 Venue Hire
Venue: Indoors / Outdoors
Capacity: 21 – 100 people
A separate room in the venue is a must. Ideally, with seats around tables. The main goal is to provide an informal setting. A projector might be needed to show presentation slides, as well as a microphone.
2.3 Partner Institutions
Partner Institutions: Not required
Pint of Science can be done independently, but having a partner institution would be of great benefit as well. A partner institution would facilitate the contact with field experts and the opportunity to engage with a broader audience.
Yearly / Project Budget: 1001 – 5000€
This budget is based on an estimate of 10 events per year, about one Science Soapbox every month. For Malta’s THINK Soapbox, we are running a maximum of 4 events per year in a bar, to coincide with the magazine launch, and use about 600€ for marketing only.
|Budget Point||Details||Yearly Cost|
|Personnel Fees||Only the core organizing team is required (voluntary).||0€|
|Venue Hire||A pub or a bar could provide this for free as long as they earn money from drinks purchases.||0€|
|Marketing||Design / printing of posters or buying advertising space in local papers / on social media.||500€|
|Other||There should not be any other costs involved.||0€|
3.1 Target Audience
Target Younger Adults (26–45)
The film festival is aimed at young adults, but older audiences are welcome as well in order to broaden the discussion. No adaptation would need to be done to the format.
Pint of Science has several social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) depending on the country, in order to share publicity more effectively. It is important to maintain a direct contact with high-influence profiles that could share the event information.
The website plays a key role since it is the place to get tickets for the events. It is important to clarify that each event is completely free, and the public is responsible for purchasing their own refreshments. Another strategy used, since there are updated databases, is spreading the word to previous attendees.
In 2015, the organizers for Pint of Science Cambridge (UK) started Creative Reactions, an initiative that pairs up local artists with a Pint of Science speaker. Each artist visits the scientist’s lab/place of work and then makes a unique piece of art based on the research. The resulting pieces of art (over 50) were displayed in an exhibition that same year. More than 700 people attended the art showcase. This creative approach of bringing science to the public was particularly successful in attracting whole families and it was a delight to see parents discussing science with young children.
3.3 Dialogic Strategy
A single Pint of Science event generally involves two or three scientific talks with an intermission that can take any shape – music, comedy, art, or more science. The speakers are encouraged to create a narrative: people like personal and relatable stories; and to avoid simply listing a series of scientific discoveries and excessive tables and graphs. It is important to allow the audience to ask as much as they want. They are the center of the event. Ideally, the audience should go away feeling they have learned something that they will share.
4.1 Project Timeline
|6 Months in advance||
|Two months in advance||
|On the day||
4.2 Single Event Structure
4.3 Personnel roles
Aside from the basic equipment provided by the venue (tables and chairs), as well as the projector and microphones, except for any bespoke resources needed for the presentations, there are no other particular materials required.
4.5 Other Logistics
No other logistics are needed.
Pint of Science was recently awarded the Points of Light Prize by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in recognition of finding ‘a brilliantly innovative way to take science out of the lab and show thousands of people how interesting science can be. They have inspired students and top scientists around the world to get involved in Pint of Science and make their subjects accessible for everyone’. This prize recognises outstanding volunteer efforts that have made a difference in the community.
Pint of Science has made a difference in local communities at multiple levels. It has connected scientists in different disciplines and departments within a city, researchers who may not normally meet are now coming together to proudly showcase their work and their institutions to the public. This interaction has promoted new research collaborations and has helped address the challenges of conveying the meaning of research efforts and the scientific journey to different audiences.
Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have found a role as organisers and communicators and have had a direct impact on the outcome of these scientific exchange events, the communication of science, and how scientists are perceived by the public. The Pint of Science experience has a lasting impact on these young scientists; postgraduates who find themselves moving on to their next positions in a different city or country are seeking out the local Pint of Science committee to create a new community. Beyond the scientific circles, these efforts have brought to the public an increased understanding of what is involved in scientific discovery and the people doing this work. It has also given scientists a venue to share with the communities that have supported their research efforts.
The basic evaluation strategy is to count the number of attendants and classify them by their demographics. Also, this should be complemented with a survey conducted at the end of the event or via email. The questions should address their expectations of the event, their interests, their feedback for future editions, and the way they learnt about the event. The marketing strategy needs to be evaluated as well through software analytics: how many followers do you have on social media, how many interactions, how many times did the hashtag appear, etc.