29-30 May 2017
European Southern Observatory
Europe/Berlin timezone

Case Study: Building a Physics Institute’s Outreach Programme from Scratch

30 May 2017, 14:25
Eridanus (European Southern Observatory)


European Southern Observatory

85748 Garching Germany


Mr Erik Arends (Leiden University)


We present the findings of our case study around building an outreach programme from scratch at the Leiden Institute of Physics, The Netherlands. Before we started, the institute had no official outreach programme, giving us a unique opportunity to do a clean case study, with no pre-existing factors that influence our data. We have been measuring and analyzing the effects of our social media strategy, press releases and newsletters in terms of reach, engagement and media coverage. Along with these data, we show our experience with encouraging scientists to engage in outreach and our ‘out-of-the-box’ activities. For example, we set up an internal research image contest, resulting in surprisingly beautiful pictures and national press coverage. Furthermore, we created a partnership with a school for graphic design, providing us with visual material at no cost and giving their students first-hand experience in science design. Moreover, we shot a movie at the local city center asking pedestrians about physics, after which we show them their misconception with an experiment. This put us directly in touch with the general public. In the absence of a prior outreach programme, we have a rare, clear view on the effects of our actions, over a two-year period. We are in a unique position to perform this clean case study at a large physics institute. From there we provide valuable do’s and don’ts for science communication practice.

Primary author

Mr Erik Arends (Leiden University)

Presentation Materials