An amazingly hot and sunny day for the launch of our first event – took everyone out of their comfort zones.
Fahima, Josephine and Robin gave us the thumbs up; loads of fun and lots of laughs as we worked on the hoof with my engagement suggestions after having learned on short notice that a bunch of under 18’s were unable to make it for our event.
Having a taste they saw the value in simplifying how to talk about engineering, have an insight in how to do so, are keen to do more public engagement and want to take over all aspects of our public engagement event design!
They also want to come to our next 5-a-side which project partner, so I’m very sad that RAEng Ingenious grant rules only allows us to count each recruited engineer once for our target numbers.
Some kit we used included Jitterbug, Plane Launcher, Steady Hand and Air Zooka which the footballers – who were really hot – said helped cool them down. As the whole point of the Air Zooka is to create a vortex, one of our engineers wanted to buy incense to use the smoke to show how it worked. The level and depth of questions asked tended to be quite simple with little variation – mostly about boots and surface tension I think.
As the first event in our project, we came away with many useful learnings about setup and how to use our kit – quite basic stuff really! And owing to the technical issues we reverted to the sports engineering kit which we also agreed needed a bit of fine tuning.
When no-one came to our stand, I spotted a group of 5 footballers doing nothing – just idel chit-chat – so I just went up to them and simply said:
“Hey guys, would you like to learn about the materials you’re using so that you can improve your game? We’ve got a stand over there with some people who can help you to improve your game.”
Their enthusiastic response was heart-warming; they went over to our stand and chatted with our engineers, who I then asked to go up to other footballers and invite them to our stand.
At our de-briefing session, they said that took them right outside of their comfort zone and we estimated that of the 60 footballers who were involved in the 5-a-side we engaged with about 30, ie 50 per cent so we were all well chuffed.
We were only able to obtain some participant feedback in passing conversation because the form design was unsuitable to obtain this type of information.