Discovering the wonders of science: European Researchers’ Night in Sweden 2019

This year’s European Researchers’ Night, known as ForskarFredag in Sweden, took place in 30 cities across the country. Participants engaged in the Swedish events included 17,122 visitors, and 550 researchers and PhD students.

ForskarFredag 2019 in 2047 Science Center in Borlänge. Photo: Henrik Hansson.

The programme featured hundreds of free activities, including presentations, hands-on activities, games, shows, experiments, workshops and guided tours, all designed to highlight the diversity of research and its impact on our daily lives.

“Researchers’ Night is officially held on the last Friday and Saturday in September but the event has grown a lot and activities are now held throughout the week. It is fantastic to see that the interest in ForskarFredag around the country is so great!” said Lena Söderström, a Project Manager at Vetenskap & Allmänhet and the national coordinator of European Researchers’ Night in Sweden.

This year’s theme was ”space” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and involved a collaboration with Sweden’s Day and Night of Astronomy, which took place on the same weekend. The theme was also highlighted through numerous space-related activities, including:

  • A nation-wide mass experiment called the “Star-Spotting Experiment”, in which the public is helping scientists to measure light pollution by counting the stars they can see in the evening sky. The experiment is running until February 2020 and is also being run in the UK, Ireland and Spain. In Sweden, 15,000 school pupils, 680 scouts and more than 170 individual members of the public have registered to participate.
  • Over 260 entries were submitted to a video competition to mark the 150th anniversary of the periodic table; the winners were announced on Day of Chemistry in October.
  • Visitors to ForskarFredag across Sweden could watch a live broadcast with Lars Karlsson, a physicist at the Karolinska Institutet,  who talked about living on the International Space Station ISS and how weightlessness affects the human body in space.

The annual Researchers Grand Prix contest is also organised as part of ForskarFredag, in which researchers are challenged to present their research in just four minutes. This year regional heats were held in six cities: Borås, Helsingborg, Karlshamn, Skövde, Stockholm and Västerås. The winners are now preparing for the final on 26 November in Stockholm.

The Swedish non-profit organisation Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA (Public & Science) has been coordinating ForskarFredag nationally since 2006. ForskarFredag (Researchers’ Friday) is Sweden’s most widely dispersed science festival, reaching towns in remoter parts of the country that rarely have access to this type of science event.  Events in Sweden are organised in participating cities by universities, science centres, museums, research centres, municipalities, science parks and regional development councils.

ForskarFredag is a part of European Researchers’ Night, a Europe-wide science festival held in over 370 cities on the same weekend. The annual event attracts around 1.5 million visitors and engages over 33,000 researchers.


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