An important part of doing research is to communicate our knowledge to a wider audience, and therefore we are happy to be able to participate at public events where we get the chance to meet people and share our work.
In February, our group was represented by members Johanne, Anjali and Helene at the Lysvandring event, which was the final event of the Oslo Life Science Conference. Here, researchers from different aspects of life science at the University of Oslo were invited to set up small stands and present their research in a relatable way. The event was held at the Oslo Science Museum, and the stands were spread around the whole museum, letting the visitors check out the exhibitions in addition to meeting scientists at the stands. To guide the way to all the stands, colourful lights were set up, giving a nice and special mood.
The event was visited by a wide range of people; families with kids eager to learn and participate in our experiments and parents that were interested in learning about how products we surround ourselves with every day contain harmful chemicals that are both released to the environment, and applied directly to ourselves. Also many groups of young people visited us. Some were science students that already had solid knowledge on the topic, while others were interested in learning some basics.
To reach people of all age groups, we had several ways of communicating our message. For the kids, we set up a skittles experiment, showing how contaminants are released from urban areas, accumulated in food webs, transported to remote areas such as the Arctic, and again accumulated in Arctic food chains. To illustrate the relevance to our own daily lives, we brought products that potentially contain environmental contaminants, ranging from personal care products to kitchen tools and ski wax. The activities were inspired by our stand at Forskningstorget in September, which we also wrote a blog post about.
We were happy to see a lot of interests in all the groups of visitors. A lot of people told us they appreciated the chance to discuss with us, as they had heard about different aspects of the pollution problem on the news recently. Several people told us they found the topic very interesting, but found it hard to separate between different issues, and to see how they could contribute anything to help. For those that were extra interested, we also recommended watching the Dark Waters movie, and to listen to the NRK Ekko podcast where Katrine was interviewed about the EU ban on siloxanes D4 and D5. The big interest of people was encouraging and really showed us why communicating science is so important!