Phew! After many months of preparation I have this afternoon finally left MOSI with an auditorium choc-full of exciting Chemistry demos ready for go tomorrow at the BSL Signs for Science Chemistry Demonstration at 11am.
It's been quite a feat to pull together this event (and its partner event BSL Signs for Science Finding New Science Terms at 2.30pm) and looking back to the start I can see that I underestimated how much work needs to go into planning a fully translated event. After what must rack up to about 3000 emails between about 10 people coordinating these two BSL events has been a bit like directing a fleet of slow-moving tankers. Not that I suggest my valued colleagues are slow-moving! Rather that there was so much to do and so many people to talk to, liaise and negotiate with in order for us to pull together all the pre-requisites for the events.
Of course there are the presenters to organize getting over to Manchester, but I've also needed to recruit a BSL translator and and electronic notetaker who can work on demand so that audience members can hear, see or read whatever language they work best with. We've needed to liaise heavily with MOSI to ensure the room is fully accessible and everyone is visible to everyone else (thanks Julie for all your help!) and we've also had to track down the equipment and chemicals needed for the event - a huge thank you to the University of Manchester Chemistry Department who have furnished us with everything we need at no expense to us.
It was a little hairy transporting the chemicals across town to MOSI but I had a helper (thanks Jenny!) and additional people at both ends to pack the car and we managed to make it safely to MOSI without any angry taxis driving into the back of us and freezing us all with a burst container of liquid nitrogen!
It has been hugely gratifying to get to the end of today and see everything set up ready to go tomorrow. I hope very much we get the mixed audience we are looking for tomorrow and that they all enjoy the events. These events are a part of something bigger - we need to be actively making public science events accessible to as many people as possible. Yes it's hard work, yes it can be expensive, but it is all worth it to enable everyone to share the wonder of science. Funders take note, we need more money to make as many events accessible to as many people as possible! And organizers, we need to be considering all kinds of people when planning our events to enable as many people as possible to attend. Even simple actions - a touch table here, a hearing loop there, or a bus to get people to the venue, can open up your event to a whole new world of people. It's time to share our expertise and maybe next year Manchester Science Festival, and our other events during the rest of the year, will be a sell-out to a diverse audience and we can confidently express satisfaction at having engaged new people with science.