Bringing science to the masses at Brighton beach

Soapbox scientists
Soapbox scientists

Exploding stars, wind-buffeted bees and medically-minded robots will be discussed when Soapbox Science comes to town next month.

This summer, a dozen female scientists will deliver short and entertaining talks on their area of expertise on Brighton beach.

Last year scientists braved the weather on Brighton beach

Last year scientists braved the weather on Brighton beach

Soapbox Science, which launched in London in 2011, is inspired by the concept of Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park and aims to celebrate women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Medicine), while bringing science to the masses.

It first came to Brighton last July, and returns for its second stint in the city on Saturday, June 2, between 11am and 2pm,

Organiser Dr Katy Petherick, public engagement coordinator at the University of Sussex, said: “This year we have a wonderful line-up of really talented scientists who will be speaking about a wide range of subjects.

“Scientists are increasingly passionate about the important role of engaging the public in their work and there is no better place to do that than on a busy Brighton beach – as long as the sun is shining.”

This year’s event, which also includes academics from the University of Southampton, King’s College London, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the University College London, the University of Brighton and Royal Holloway, University of London, will be held in the flexible event space to the west of the i360.

New subjects being discussed on the soapbox this year include drug design, maths, stem cell research and astrochemistry.

Raysa Khan, research fellow in chemistry at the University of Sussex, said: “I’m really excited to be taking part in Soapbox Science under the shadow of the i360. As a scientist we don’t want to operate in an academic bubble and it’s really important for us to be able to explain our research to the wider public in layman’s terms.

“The Soapbox Science format offers a really fantastic opportunity to engage directly with the public and we’re hopeful the day will be a great learning experience for both beachgoers and for all us scientists taking part.”

Cllr Alan Robins, Brighton and Hove City Council’s chair of tourism, development and culture, said: “This event sounds like a perfect blend of fun and education and exactly the sort of thing we envisaged for the new beachfront plaza when it was designed.

“It’s an inspiring addition to the city’s programme of free events and another great reason to get down to our fabulous seafront.”

As the event draws near, a call has gone out for a team of up to volunteers to help assist the scientists on the day.

Volunteers will be asked to play a crucial role in attracting beach-goers to the Soapbox talks, assisting scientists with any props, handing out goodies to lucky audience members and gathering feedback data to help monitor the success of the event.

To volunteer for Soapbox Science click here.