“What happens if you put a few scientists on soapboxes on a busy street? We’ll tell you what happens: People who don’t usually think about science get to hear about it first hand, from scientists who don’t necessarily have shaggy beards and odd matching shoes, but who do know how to share their passion for experimentation, discovery and innovation. Soapbox Science is a grass-roots approach to taking science to the public. No fancy festivals; no stuffy lecture-theatres: just some of the UK’s top women in science, a couple of silly props, a dash of summer showers, and lots of unsuspecting tourists. It’s street theatre with a difference. And we aim to make a difference!”
Sumner & Pettorelli, Soapbox Science Founders, July 2012.
Soapbox Science is an annual public science communication event that brings cutting-edge science to the public, in an accessible, fun, free and un-intimidating way. Unlike other science events, a ‘Soapbox’ audience will not have necessarily planned to come and learn about science – rather, they happen across a bunch of world-class scientists as they stroll down the streets! Because of this, the event is unique among science outreach ventures, in that it has the potential to inspire people who never normally get exposed to science. Moreover, it is accessible to anyone, irrespective of education or financial means. Finally, there cannot be a more ‘green’ and sustainable way of disseminating science and engaging with the public: there are no expensive exhibits, constructions, pavilions, props or speaker fees; it is highly portable, reproducible, and flexible in its theme. Soapbox is a next-generation science event: it is a sustainable, cost-effective, non-discriminatory approach to bringing UK science to the people.
Soapbox Science runs for 3 hours over an afternoon in the summer. The event is divided into one-hour sessions, with 4 to 5 speakers per session. Speakers stand on custom made “Soapbox Science” soapboxes, arranged in a semi-circle, facing slightly inwards, to facilitate the crowds’ movements. The event enjoys substantial media coverage, including BBC, The Guardian, Time Out, The Times (Eureka). We also receive great interest from the scientific community, with coverage in Nature, Science and New Scientist.