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‘Soapbox Science’ Roadshow Brings Science to Cambridge Market Square

Jul 04, 2016 11:09 PM EDT
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The Soapbox Science roadshow team went to Cambridge on Saturday, July 2, to the delight of many passersby who came upon the scientists at the Market Square. The science professionals were sharing some of their knowledge in a fun and engaging way.

"It was really great. We had 10 minutes' rain but despite that the speakers managed to keep the crowds engaged, and there were lots of people who wouldn't normally be exposed to science," said ecologist Viola Ross-Smith, as quoted on Cambridge News. "There was one homeless man who seemed to really enjoy it; he watched all the talks and asked some good questions, and it's nice to reach such different people."

Eleven researchers from the university participated in the event, the first time that Soapbox Science was held there since its inception in 2011.

For three hours, from 12 noon to 3 p.m., scientists from different fields, including chemistry, physics, meteorology, and others took turns speaking at a wooden soapbox. They engaged their audience with some fun yet mind-boggling questions like, "How do plants dance?"

They also had their own props to keep people interested and to get their message across. For instance, Dr. Sarah Bohndiek, a lecturer in biomedical physics at the Cavendish Laboratory, let people wear polarizing glasses in sharing her cancer research. There were live butterflies, marshmallows, pictures, balloons, and more.

"We really want to get people who aren't connected through traditional events in schools," Ross-Smith said. "We want to challenge the perception that a scientist is an elderly man in a lab coat. Lots of people do science, and many of them are women, and we think it's important to raise awareness of that, especially for young girls, and to get across how science can be a viable career."

She lauded the scientists who participated as they took care in how they engaged kids while also explaining some complicated complex.

"Looking back, what was nice was how people responded to it," she said.

Soapbox Science has scheduled events at 13 locations all over the U.K. and one abroad this year. Apart from Cambridge, it already visited London, Cardiff, Exeter, Newcastle, and Oxford. It will be at Milton Keynes and Reading on July 9, Bristol on July 16, Manchester on July 23, and Edinburgh on July 24. On Aug. 20, it will be having its first international event in Brisbane, Australia. It will then be back on Sept. 3 in Hull, and the last stop is Swansea on Sept. 10.

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