Between 1 and 4 July, the city of Limassol in Cyprus welcomed 45 participants from 15 different countries to the 2019 SciShops Summer School. With diverse backgrounds, ranging from researchers at universities to project managers in private companies, and varying levels of expertise in Science Shops, the participants gathered in this seaside city to learn together about many different aspects relating to the establishment, running and sustainability of Science Shops.
The four days of training were characterised by interactive sessions, practical workshops, hands-on learning experiences and a vast amount of knowledge sharing. The Summer School was fully packed with content, offering the participants the opportunity to learn about diverse topics including citizen science, partnership building, impact evaluation, moderation techniques, social media engagement and business planning.
Inspiring field visits
In addition, three field visits to different initiatives in Cyprus that engage citizens in research projects were much appreciated and provided inspiration and ideas for participants to take back home. Visits were kindly hosted by Terra Cypria (an NGO that runs a series of educational programmes to promote conservation, environmental protection and research among members of different communities), the Cyprus Institute (Cyl) that runs numerous participatory and citizen science projects, and FOSS Research Centre for Sustainable Energy of the University of Cyprus.
Top influencer and best pitch awards
During the Summer School, participants were also encouraged to participate in two contests for social media engagement and the ‘best Science Shop pitch’. Anne Laybourne (@GBC_Anne), Community Research Manager at University College London, was the winner of the Social Media ‘top influencer’ prize, and a special mention went to András Martoni from Corvinus University of Budapest for obtaining the post about the Summer School that received the most likes. Nevertheless, most participants were really active on social media and the hashtag #SciShopSchool appeared in over 250 tweets during the week.
In addition, Giovanna Grossi from the University of Brescia won the prize for the ‘best pitch’ after presenting the Italian Science Shop ‘Watshop’ at a networking reception hosted by SciShops partner KPMG Cyprus in Nicosia on the Wednesday evening. At the event, a number of participants got the opportunity to put the presentation techniques they had learned into practice by pitching their Science Shops to an audience of external science and society stakeholders.
A positive learning experience for all
Feedback about the Summer School was very positive, with the ‘knowledge-exchange’ approach, in which participants could share their own challenges and practices, being one of the aspects that was clearly appreciated, as well as the balance between practical exercises and theory. As one of the participants commented “I learnt a lot, reflected a lot, and met new friends”. Learnings and outcomes from the Summer School will now be incorporated into resources being developed within the SciShops project.