Science speed dating: flirting with research

A group of people sit in a circle and discuss science
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Interested individuals attend a science speed dating session to ask scientists about their research work. Each pair has just a few minutes to talk, before the participants will move on to the next table where they will meet another researcher. The goal is to raise the participants’ awareness of research work, and to enable exchange between experts and members of the general public.

How does a science speed dating session work?

The first encounter can be determined by drawing lots or be picked spontaneously. After expiration of the allotted time, the participants will swap seats, for example by moving on clockwise. The participants meet one researcher at each table, where they have the opportunity to ask the scientists questions and learn about their respective area of research. After a set period of time that can range between about four and twenty minutes, all participants move on to the next table, to start their exchange with another researcher. Participants can continue to move on until they have spoken to everybody.

What is special about science speed dating?

Science speed dating puts researchers in touch with laypeople. The challenge for the experts is to explain their work clearly and briefly. Participants are granted an insight into fields of research that they previously knew nothing or very little about. This form of direct exchange between researchers and laypeople rarely occurs in everyday life.

Which requirements need to be met?

You will need a room with seating or bar tables for the researchers and participants. The individual tables should be far enough apart to allow for undisturbed conversations. Partition walls can also help here. You may want to prepare slips of paper to determine the first encounters. A person with a stop watch informs the researchers and participants when it is time to move on.

Which target groups are suitable for the format?

The format is suitable for interested grown-ups, students and pupils. The scientists can be from the areas of research and/or teaching. A science speed dating session lasts between about 20 and 90 minutes, depending on the number of participants.

Special tip

Science speed dating is also used at scientific congresses and specialist events to facilitate networking among researchers and inter-disciplinary exchange.

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