Busking – wannabe singers, Elvis impersonators, or that man on Northumberland Street with the electric guitar – yet, busking is an excellent form of science communication.
Over the last year, Newcastle University Street Science has engaged the public of Newcastle city centre during weekends, school holidays and at festivals/events (notably the British Science Festival!). Our aim is to bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to life via street performance.
How do we achieve this? Hook – attract your audience, involve them in the performance. Message – explain the science in a manner they will understand. Call to action – tell the audience what they can do following this interaction – vitally important. We want people to become enthusiastic about science, and that means doing science beyond our demonstrations. Our blog includes “try this at home” cards, which are great for the younger audience, getting them thinking about science beyond the classroom.
Science is fun, but many people hold negative stereotypes – i.e. following bad experiences at school. After our demonstrations, we hope people realise they are capable of doing, and understanding science. It’s great to see happy faces after a demo.
The challenge for me is the audience – from the enthusiastic groups who can’t wait to get involved, to the more sceptical individuals who take a lot of convincing. During one busk, an elderly gentleman was shown how to use a calculator – he’d never used one before.