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The event team in Stockholm with event coordinator and biomedical scientist Gonçalo Britos sitting in the front.

Gonçalo shares a glass of Science

Pint of Science, a three-day long festival created to spread science to the general public, was held on the 20th-22nd of May. And this year the inspirational science festival took place in Sweden for the first time.

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With nearly 600 visitors Pint of Science in Sweden was held in Uppsala, Linköping, Lund and Stockholm. The event team that made the festival possible in Stockholm was composed by eight people, mostly scientists, but also science communicators. Gonçalo Brito is a biomedical scientist and event coordinator of Pint of Science Stockholm and he tells us the background story of the festival.

- In 2012 two scientists, Dr. Michael Motskin and Dr. Praveen Paul, organized an event called 'Meet the Researchers' where people affected by Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis were brought into their labs to see the type of research they were doing. This event made them realize that if people were interested in meeting the scientists in the labs, they should try to bring the scientists to the people instead.

The idea for Pint of Science was born and the event was very successful and rapidly spread to other countries. Currently it is held in nearly 300 cities around the world. The organizer's main goal is to make science more approachable, so they can reach out to people that would typically not come to a scientific event.

- Science is a powerful tool that can promote critical thinking in our society and people should not feel that science is only for experts to talk about. It is our job, as scientists, to make it more appealing to the mainstream audience. Additionally, scientific research is in part funded by taxpayer's money, so it seems only fair that people get to witness what is being done within the walls of research institutions, says Gonçalo Brito.

The concept "Science in a pub" is rooted in the idea that in order to reach a broader audience, science has to be more attractive and be discussed in ways that are not too technical.

- As pubs are the typical place where people hang out to socialize and relax, the two things match very nicely. Regarding the name, Pint of Science originates from the English measurement unit Pint (568mL), which is still used today. So the idea is to invite people to share a "glass of Science" together, explains Gonçalo Brito.

The events in Sweden included a total of 34 different talks, covering diverse topics such as: Artificial intelligence, 3D-printing, education systems, plastic pollution, climate change, dementia, cancer and many others.

- It was an ambitious program, with talks either in English or Swedish, that included speakers with different levels of experience, all the way from students to professors, says Gonçalo Brito.

Regarding Pint of Science in Sweden he continues.

- I think it is a great initiative, only made possible by Stéphanie Heil and Carine Signoret, who brought the concept to Sweden and engaged all the volunteers, in various cities, to independently organize the events. It requires a lot of time, effort and coordination, and we all do it in our free time. It is certainly good news that it finally came to Sweden and also that events such as this are becoming more prevalent around the world.

The event team in Stockholm is now discussing the past event and plans for the future. Gonçalo talks about speed-dating with scientists and experiments on stage as new ways to bring the general public closer to science.

- My plan is to start brainstorming about what we can organize in the future. It doesn't necessarily need to be a 3-day festival. It could be interesting to try new ideas besides the standard talks, such as speed-dating with scientists, where people can come and talk to different researchers about what they do. Or, for instance, try to have some kind of experiment on stage to make it even more interesting. The important part is that we make science available to everyone, and the best way to do it is to make it engaging and fun, says Gonçalo.

 

Text: Josefine Wennerhult 

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