First Soapbox Science Ireland: success!

By Natalie Cooper, who organized the first Soapbox Science Ireland. You can follow Natalie on Twitter, at @nhcooper123


Saturday 26th April was the inaugural Soapbox Science Ireland event, held in Trinity College Dublin’s beautiful Front Square. I’m happy to report that the event was a great success, with around 200 visitors who braved the rain and wind to witness some incredibly memorable performances! Check out the speakers here. Feedback from the public was amazing, and I think that everyone involved had a great time too!

Rather than rehashing the event I’ve popped all the tweets onto a Storify here. Instead, I thought it might be more fun to give a little (tongue-in-cheek) recap of some the things I learned through organizing the event!


Flip charts + windy day = bad combination

In case health and safety are reading this, there definitely wasn’t an incident where the wind caught the flip chart and blew it over almost hitting a member of the public. That definitely didn’t happen. And to the Zoology department I borrowed the flip chart from, the bottom bit was definitely always a bit bent and that top bit snapped off years ago…honest…


Rain ponchos are amazing!

Turns out that rain ponchos have multiple uses – they can protect a volunteer or a speaker from the rain, cover up props, protect a video camera and camera crew, and provide hours of entertainment watching people get stuck half in and half out of them.


I am a still a Girl Guide at heart

My bag for the event contained pens, pencils, permanent markers, white board markers, two screwdrivers, a multi-tool, scissors, an eye mask, first aid kit, throat lozenges, painkillers, four kinds of tape, emergency chocolate, notebooks, a laptop, power cables, Velcro, string, and a hammer. I think we used everything but the hammer and the first aid kit!


Some people are really rude, or inobservant

We had a couple of incidents early on where tourists (individuals and massive tour groups) tried to plough through the middle of the event to get closer to the campanile in Front Square. After I put up some string to close it off, and a few of us used our “angry voices”, they stopped, but they’re weren’t best pleased! The more amusing one was a jogger who was so far “in the zone” he jogged right down the line in front of all the speakers, right in front of the camera set up and in between the spectators, seemingly without even noticing there was an event going on!


There is nothing funnier than watching a vet stick her hand up the backside of a cardboard cow and pretending to sniff its vaginal mucus.

Fact. Morag the cow really was the star of the show!


Events like this wouldn’t be possible without lots of help from lots of people

Finally, although Soapbox Science Ireland focused a lot on thanking its 11 inspiring speakers, it couldn’t have happened without the help of a number of other amazing people. Apologies if I forgot anyone but special thanks to: Patricia O’Flaherty – wonderful designer who made the Soapbox Science Ireland logo and designed posters, name badges and T-shirts for us, our merry band of volunteers: Trìona – who lured the crowds with promises of free science, missing all the talks in the process, Laura – who also missed all the talks making sure our speakers were fed and watered between sessions, Sive, Jean, Anne and Deirdre – who each controlled a soapbox and wrangled props and speakers, Fionnuala – who took charge of market research, Sandra – who took all the lovely photographs, Catherine – who ordered T-shirts and trained our speakers, Niamh – who helped warm our speakers up, Jen, Lindsay, Alan, Niamh, Sandra, Meike, Dylan, Heather, and Thomas – who helped with everything from wearing suits of guts to market research, the members of BatLab, Nathalie and Paul – who helped attract the crowds on just a few hours sleep, Martyn and Peter in TCD Zoology – who helped gather props, fix broken flipcharts and drove the van, Noel in the TCD Buildings Office, TCD Security, Karen in the TCD Equality Office, the Equality Fund, Claire and Eileen from WiSER, Thomas Deane from the TCD Press Office, everyone who tweeted and retweeted the event, and everyone who came along and supported us – especially in the final session in the rain! Thanks!!!


Next year Soapbox Science Ireland will be coming to BELFAST! Hopefully we’ll see you there!


PS – Some videos of the event


Photos of the event:

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