Soapbox Science is a public outreach platform that can be use to communicate a specific topic or theme, in this example we will refer to an event that promoted women in science.
A soapbox event turns a public space into an area for learning and debate, in the spirit of “Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner”. Soapbox Science encourages scientists to explain their research to the public using non-traditional methods (there is no use of a projector or slides).
Speakers typically make props at home that they use to help explain the principles behind their research. This helps to bring 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 – instead, they happen to come 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 usually 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.
In case you did not know, a soapbox is a raised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech. The term originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves by standing on a wooden crate originally used for the shipment of soap or other dry goods from a manufacturer to a retail store.
- Adult citizens
You can do it with all those groups, but we did it with professionals from different fields like public engagement or the cultural and creative sector.
It provides an opportunity for the general public to meet and interact with scientists in places they would not normally expect, and can help raise awareness about specific themes or issues, such as increasing the visibility of women in science.
Soapbox Science events can help challenge stereotypes and preconceptions about science, by letting the public see what real-life scientists are actually like, as well as giving the researchers an opportunity to talk about their work in a new and innovating way, in a variety of public spaces such as parks, high streets, and beaches. Speakers can range from PhD students to Pro Vice-Chancellors.
Soapbox Science showcases the full spectrum of the academic career path and gives speakers themselves the chance to meet and network.
- Check the website Soapboxscience.org
- You will need a soapbox (or similar), roll-up banner, information desk, and some other promotional materials, for which Soapbox Science can offer help. Although this sort of event can be conducted independently fairly easily, depending on the rules and laws in your region.
- You may want to look for potential sponsors
- Organize and register the venue
- Ask Soapboxers- speakers from local research institutes or universities.
- Disseminate your event via a flyer, Facebook, Twitter
- Wissenschafts kommunikation