Despite Storm Agnes and the latest wave of Covid cases affecting ferries and flights, the ASDC team delivered another outstanding conference for over 165 delegates from across the science engagement sector. Focusing on the theme The Power In Purpose, the programme included over 20 hours of speaker-led sessions exploring the who, what, where, when and why of science engagement.
Delegates enjoyed keynotes from Ben Bleasdale and Clio Heslop sharing the latest research and insights from the British Science Association and the Campaign for Science and Engineering, Alison Boyle from Science Foundation Ireland exploring future trends of STEM engagement, with inspirational stories from the UK Space Agency Reserve Astronaut/Exploration Commercialisation Lead Meganne Christian, and the hard-hitting reality of the "inclusion illusion" with Include Me Consulting CEO Eugene Gilkes.
Watch the highlights photo reel capturing the atmosphere and energy throughout the conference - thank you everyone for coming and making it such a success!
Photo credit: Phil Magowen - BNL productions
Throughout the programme there were panel presentations and workshops run by science centres, universities and outreach professionals that involved activities and opportunities to work together, learning from and being inspired by peers from around the world. The event culminated with lively discussion tables sparking conversations and debate, leaving delegates feeling rejuvenated and inspired to look at new ways of working and sharing ideas with colleagues.
Listening to feedback from pervious years, we introduced a new element to the ASDC Conference with a Collaborative Art Project run by Artist Luke Palmer. Luke had pre-prepared a large outline drawing of the city of Belfast, printed it on recycled plastic and cut into tiles ready for delegates to take one and get creative. The result is a vibrant image filled with personality and imagination and will be up on the ASDC HQ wall as a lasting legacy for the 2023 conference.
For the second year running, we celebrated the volunteers who give up their time and dedication to enable more people to access hands-on science with the Marsh Trust Volunteer Award with ASDC, created specifically for our members. News of the winners is to be announced soon as there's a special honorary prize this year and the recipients haven't been told yet (check back for the announcement next week).
Everyone enjoyed exploring W5 Science and Discovery Centre, either as part of a guided tour or taking time out to wonder around and be inspired (or spooked by the dragons in the Amaze space). Huge thanks to the W5 team who were there to help and support with anything and everything.
Missed the conference and looking to find out more about the event? Download a simple copy of the programme and find out more on our conference page.
Which of the sessions you attended will influence your practice? "Leading with equity beyond the "Inclusion Illusion" This [keynote] had some great bigger picture thinking that will hopefully shape the approach our senior management take to our internal culture as an organisation, hot on the heels of the launch of a new strategy."
"The entire conference was such an enriching and valuable opportunity. The programme offered something for everyone; spaces to learn, spaces to challenge, spaces of support, spaces to feel inspired and crucially spaces to feel united as a sector with colleagues and peers from across the UK."
What was your biggest takeaway from the event? "The appetite for collaboration on climate adaptation policy between centres and our shared challenges. Lots of overlap from leaky roofs to cooling a building in extreme heat to flooding risks and insurance. "
"Overall really well organised conference. Great tone and very friendly. Good to see the industry all together."
Would you recommend the conference to a colleague? "Absolutely! It's the best conference I've been to in recent memory"
With thanks to the conference sponsors and supporters; UKRI, STFC, UK Space Agency, Visit Belfast, W5 and exhibitors; Exhibits As A Service, Hüttinger, Octagon Studios, Portfolio Group, Rubber Cheese.