In the summer of 2019, Claire Price – who is now a member of The Crastina Crew – “delivered her very own science festival in South Wales”. Earlier this month, Royal Society of Biology decided to reward her with an Outreach Award for her initative.

RSB writes on their homepages that “Dr Price curated and delivered the first Bitesize Science Festival in her home town of Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales during the summer of 2019 – the first science festival of its kind in the town, and one of the first few to be held outside a university city.”

Congratulations, Claire! How on earth did you get the idea to organize a science festival?

I must admit it was a very indulgent reason. I have always wanted to be able to attend a science festival in my hometown. I had started a number of other initiatives in the town so new there was an appetite for science. It just felt like it was the right time to finally achieve that dream.

How would you say that your event is different from others?

Firstly, it is one of the only science festivals in the UK to be held outside a University town or city. Secondly, we held it in a church. Not many science festivals occur inside an active church.

 

What was your favorite activity during the event?

I don’t think I pick. I know that sounds like I’m sitting on the fence, but there was so much brilliant science on offer.

Although, if I was to be pushed, I would say it was the students from Cyfarthfa High School doing thing science show. It is easy to get up in front of a group of people (children and adults) and they were absolutely brilliant and utterly engaging.

 

Was there something during the process that surprised you?

That so many people turned up!

I said from the start “if 10 people turned up, and that would make me happy”. We ended up having around 400 attendees …

 

Please give us an instruction in five steps on how to organize a science festival!

  1. Speak to other science festivals – I was lucky enough to have support with ideas, etc. from the organisers of the Cardiff and Swansea Science Festivals. We also signed up to be part of the UK Science Festivals Network (UKSFN). The organisation and members are a great source of help.
  2. Plan early – running a science festival is a huge task and getting the planning done early really helps.
  3. Take help from the science communicator community – there are a number of email lists for science communicators, get on there and advertise your festival. There will be lots of people interested in taking part. Also, contact Universities. There will always be researchers looking to share their research.
  4. Get sponsorship – this science festival was run on a shoestring. I was lucky to get people involved for free, but it is important to pay those involved in some way (even if it is just to cover expenses), particularly freelancers, as this is their job.
  5. Remember to have fun – the festival can be hectic and can, therefore, pass you by. Take a moment to enjoy it – you’ve earned it!

Finally, how do you say ”Trust science – it is evidence-based!” in Welsh?

Dw I’n siarad Cymraeg, tipyn bach, achos roeddwn i’n dysgu yr iaith am TGAU ac es i ysgol nos. Felly, credaf ei fod “Ymddiriedaeth gwyddoniaeth – mae’n seiliedig ar dystiolaeth!”

Claire presents herself:

I’m a postdoctoral research on the BEACON project in the Centre for Cytochrome P450 Biodiversity at Swansea University Medical School. My role is very varied. On the BEACON project, I work with local companies to help their grown businesses, whether through laboratory experiments, or other ways, such as building websites. I also work on antifungal resistance and look at using biotechnology to make new chemicals. I am also heavily involved in science communication and outreach. I founded and organised the Bitesize Science Festival, Merthyr Tydfil’s first ever science festival, in 2019. (Merthyr Tydfil is my hometown. It is based in the South Wales valleys. Although considered one of the top 10 most deprived areas in the UK and EU, you can’t ask for a better set of people, with a huge community spirit!) I also write for Crastina, which I thoroughly enjoy and am honoured to work with a wonderful group of people. I am the treasurer for the South Wales branch of the Royal Society of Biology, and we host lots of events throughout the year. I am also a proud STEM ambassador and have been involved in many activities, including taking part in the Swansea Science Festival, and exhibiting activities at the Urdd and National Eisteddfodau. I also go in to schools to spread the fun of science. I also volunteer with Pint of Science Swansea and Soapbox Science Swansea.

In my spare time, I like to read books (anything from detective mysteries to science and history books), play video games, restore broken video game consoles and make robots (badly).

 

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