Recently, we had the “Tag der Forschung” – our open day – at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG). It took place on a sunny Saturday even though rain was forecasted. Laboratories and other facilities were open to the public, there was a stage with live music and children could dress up as *real* scientists, participate in a research quiz and build particle detectors with Lego. I also built one (see picture 1). Also, some parents built their own ones. In one case the parents even wanted to stay longer than their child. All particle detectors can be found here: http://bit.ly/LEGO-HZG .
Why should we – researchers or future researchers – care about showing people what we are doing? An open day costs a lot of money and time which could have been invested in research instead. However, it brings research closer to people who do not have a connection to research in their everyday life. It shows for what purpose tax money is spent. It may motivate pupils to start studying subjects related to our work with the aim to go into research later. It offers people the opportunity to enter areas which are commonly restricted to research personal only. People have a nice day at our working place. It shows that researchers normally look quite normal.
I was wondering what other Helmholtz Zentren do with respect to presenting their research to the public. They do quite a lot. Every second Helmholtz Zentrum had a open day within the last three years. At least HZB (Berlin), UFZ (Leipzig), GFZ (Potsdam), Desy (Hamburg) and HZG (Geesthacht/Hamburg) were active at “Nights of Knowledge” or “Nights of Research”. Desy and DLR have their own magazines. Several Helmholtz Zentren or individuals working there have blogs on which they regularly post.
There are also two upcoming events. Perhaps you are close by and have time to take a look?
- Open Day at the DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) in Oberpfaffenhofen, 12th October 2014: Open Day DLR
- Open Day at the DKFZ (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) in Heidelberg, 19th October 2014: Open Day DKFZ
What do I want to express with this blog entry?
- The open day at HZG was a nice day and I got to know some colleagues which I did not know before.
- Open days, nights of knowledge and other similar events are important for representing our institutes and for transferring some basic knowledge to visitors.
- Take a look what people at other researchers do.
- Have a nice weekend :-) .