Some time ago I invited John Davidson, Communications Director at the Francis Crick Institute, to send a piece about their public engagement activities and plans. This is what he sent me earlier this week. It seems somehow fitting with a weekend upon us……
……There will be large queues waiting patiently but excitedly outside the site of the Francis Crick Institute this August. Thousands upon thousands of people will line up outside the site at St Pancras to take the ‘Javelin’ train to Stratford to see the Olympics.
They will not be bored.
Buskers will be on hand to delight this captive audience – not with music, but with science.
The Crick will be an entirely new institute with a distinct vision of how medical research should be carried out. The plan to busk the Olympic crowds is part of the Crick’s wider strategy to engage people in science years before the Institute opens.
We believe strongly that engagement benefits everyone involved. We have deliberately started local and over time will build our engagement activities to spread ever more widely.
This year will be the fifth that scientists from the two founding institutes (the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research and Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute) share science with local people at the annual Somers Town summer festival.
Earlier this year we supported an LRI event to give local students the opportunity to quiz top scientists – including the LRI’s Nobel laureate Tim Hunt and we helped a local primary school to celebrate science week.
While we were waiting for planning permission, we opened up the site so local people could use the land as temporary allotments and later to see archaeological digs at the site – investigating the site’s rich industrial past.
This engagement has had tangible benefits. It has demonstrated that the Crick will be a good neighbour which contributes to the local community. It has helped generate good will and excitement for a large project in a deprived area. It has given scientists an opportunity to increase their skills and develop confidence in explaining their work.