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What do marshmallows, spaghetti and Lego have in common? They explain exciting methods and principles of neutron sciences. More than 4600 visitors could convince themselves about that at the Scientific Village in Toulouse in July 2018.
People of all ages being curious about science and innovation were able to discover the major scientific advances of the past and present day during the Science in the City Festival in Toulouse. As an event parallel to the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), the Festival took place from 9 till 14 July 2018 across the city and offered more than 150 events free to the public.
A major place to go for the visitors was the Scientific Village at the central place of the city, where international scientific institutions presented themselves and their current projects. It was there where the RICE Working Group set up its “Olympic Games of neutrons and photons”. Besides the MLZ, there were booths from the Square Kilometre Array SKA, MAX IV laboratory, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, CERIC-ERIC, EUROfusion, Elettra Synchrotone and the EU project SINE2020. Amongst the 4600 visitors also the French science minister Frédérique Vidal took the chance to pass the Scientific Village.
At the neutron ball toss game the kids proved their abilities as neutron scatterers © FRM II / TUM
At the “Olympic Games” visitors of all ages got to know scientific methods and research projects in a playful and exciting way: they chose a real research question related to different topics as energy, environment, cultural heritage, astronomy, health and material engineering. Depending on the topic, the visitors then were guided to different stations where they had to prove their scientific and creative skills. In the end, the young and old science enthusiasts received a personalized “scientist’s diploma” and a gold medal.
The different activities proposed at the booth especially made the eyes of the kids sparkle: they rebuilt atomic models by using marshmallows and spaghetti or proved their skills as operation engineers of a tokamak fusion reactor at a computer game. The dynamic Lego model of a neutron three-axes-spectrometer and a neutron time-of-flight-spectrometer impressed both parents and children, while the younger ones tried their abilities as neutron scatterers at a neutron ball toss game. Experiments with solar-energy, rainbow light and an innovative method of paper conservation captivated the visitors. At the photo booth they finally could take pictures of themselves to remember their day as a scientist.
The successful co-project was organized by the Working Group on Research Infrastructures Communications and Engagement (RICE) that is currently counting 33 members from 27 different European Research institutions. Funding came from the ERF-AISBL, the Association of European-level Research Infrastructure Facilities. “The Olympic Games of Neutrons and Photons” attained the general aim of the RICE working group to promote the public awareness of large scale research facilities and infrastructures.