LiGHTING the way for research: hundreds turn out for science showcase

LiGHTS NightsScientific research which is changing the world we live in today has been opened up to the public as part of a showcase celebrating developments across all areas of science.

Hundreds of schoolchildren, University students and inquisitive members of the public came face to face with skeletons, robots and life-size terracotta warriors among other projects, as part of LiGHTS Nights (Lincoln – Get Hold of Tech and Science) at the University of Lincoln, UK.

The science extravaganza was one of more than 250 events occurring simultaneously across Europe on Friday 30th September as part of the annual European Researchers’ Night event.

The action-packed day on the University of Lincoln’s Brayford campus hosted scientific workshops and exhibitions ranging from skeletal examinations by forensic archaeologists and an extraordinary collection of replica Terracotta Warriors, to archaeological excavations in thousands of UK gardens which are mapping the impact of the Black Death.

Other activities included workshops which enabled visitors to extract DNA from everyday food using ordinary chemicals such as washing-up liquid and alcohol, learn how dogs are helping humans with their health, and meet an ensemble cast of robots from the University’s School of Computer Science. The day also included talks covering topics from sleep to animal behaviour.

The aim was to inspire people of all ages to learn more about university research. LiGHTS has been spearheaded by Carenza Lewis, a leading archaeologist who featured on the acclaimed Time Team television series.

Professor Lewis, Professor for the Public Understanding of Research at the University of Lincoln, said: “The activities and exhibits on show for LiGHTS Night 2016 were superb, with a range and variety which offered anyone and everyone an intriguing day.  More than 95 per cent of visitors enthusiastically commended the activities they took part in as enjoyable, interesting and informative, while 74 per cent of school students were inspired to consider a career in STEM (Science, technology engineering or maths). University staff enjoyed presenting the work they love to receptive audiences, and we are already looking forward to making next year even better.”

Contributions came from academics across the University’s Colleges of Science, Arts and Social Science.
The European Researchers’ Night initiative has been funded by the EU under HORIZON 2020 in the framework of the Marie Sklodowska Curie actions. LiGHTS Nights 2016 was Lincoln’s first participation in the initiative and further funding has been secured for the University to take part again in 2017.