The Science Picnic of Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Centre is Europe’s largest outdoor event aimed to promote science. Every year, it attracts crowds of visitors to Warszawa. Scientific institutions, universities, research institutes, museums, cultural institutions, and foundations related to science and science clubs present their achievements and reveal the behind-the-scenes aspects of their everyday work. They comprehensibly present science to audiences of various ages, with the aid of experiments, demonstrations and interactive exhibits.
The 20th edition of the Science Picnic, with the theme of “Health and inventions”, was held at the PGE Narodowy on 7 May 2016. Transferring the event to the PGE Narodowy made participation all the more comfortable and convenient for both scientists and visitors, and helped achieve an even higher turnout than in previous years. More than 200 institutions took part, from Poland and 16 other countries (German, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, and Turkey). The exhibit stands of research institutions and science demonstrators from Poland and the world occupied nearly the entire outer ring of the PGE Narodowy, the access routes to the ring, and some of the rooms within the building itself. More than 70,000 visitors came to witness it all.
The Science Picnic was created as a follow-up to the initiative and ideas of: Professor Łukasz Turski from the Centre for Theoretical Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Robert Firmhofer and Krystyna Kępska-Michalska from Polish Radio. The first Science Picnic (as Science Picnic of Polish Radio BIS) took place on 14 June 1997 at the New Town Square in Warszawa. It was an inspiration for many initiatives popularising science, among others, for creation of the Copernicus Science Centre in Warszawa. In 2005, the Science Picnic was commended by the European Commission as one of 10 model European projects in the “Science and Society” field.
Since 2008, Science Picnic is organized jointly by Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Centre.
Polish Radio is Poland’s biggest public radio network. It keeps its audiences informed and educates them, building a community of language, ideas and values. Since 1925 it has ensured Polish people universal access to the treasures of national and world culture and science.
In its broadcasts, Polskie Radio presents a rich variety of topics. Apart from current affairs and specialist services, it airs music programmes, news analysis, documentaries and features, popular science, educational, health, social, entertainment, religious and family programmes. When it comes to music, practically all genres are presented. Polish Radio is also Poland’s biggest and most accessible concert hall. Music lovers can follow live the most outstanding music events held at the world’s top philharmonic halls and opera houses. Concerts held at the Witold Lutosławski Polish Radio Concert Studio, which features the country’s best acoustics, the Agnieszka Osiecka Music Studio and the recently opened Władysław Szpilman Studio are listened to live by millions over the airwaves.
Radio drama produced by Polish Radio Theatre and Features and Documentaries Studio productions also figure prominently in the offer. They are highly appreciated for their excellent standards and regularly win prizes at national and international competitions. Polish Radio also devotes a lot of attention to science and education. Since 1997 it has organized the Science Picnic (as of 2008 in partnership with the Copernicus Science Centre). The picnic is Europe’s largest open-air event devoted to science. Each year it brings together more than 100,000 participants.
On air, a rich selection of programmes is offered by four complementary nationwide networks aimed at different audiences: Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as by Polish Radio External Service with its seven foreign language services and the current affairs English language portal thenews.pl. The choice of topics, format and presentation mode are geared toward satisfying the ambitious needs and preferences of all target groups. Meeting these goals corresponds with Polish Radio’s mission as laid down by the Broadcasting Act.
Polish Radio offers a complete service of news from Poland and the rest of the world. The Radio Information Agency provides a round-the-clock text and audio service as well as specialist documentation services covering politics, economy, history and the arts. The Polskieradio.pl portal integrates content generated by all the networks, while also providing original content, topical special services and archive materials. The portal allows web users to listen to all the streams of Polish Radio networks, together with an additional 100+ topical music and feature webcasts as part of the moje.polskieradio.pl platform.
Polish Radio is also a record label, offering pop, rock and classical music albums. Features and documentaries are also released. The company organizes concerts and offers professional recording studios for hire.
The national broadcaster finances the activities of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Warsaw and the Amadeus Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra in Poznań. It also supports the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra in Katowice.
Polish Radio is an active member of the European Broadcasting Union, the world’s biggest organization of public broadcasters. In December 2012 the President of Polish Radio was elected to the EBU Board. For the first time a representative of the Polish broadcasting community became part of the EBU executive body.
The Copernicus Science Centre is one of the most modern European institutions showing the relationship between science, culture and everyday life.
Our mission is to encourage personal involvement in getting to know and understanding the world, and to take responsibility for changes taking place around us. We implement this mission by providing interactive exhibitions, laboratories and organising innovative events being part of our action programme.
Visitors at any age can experiment themselves using more than 400 interactive exhibits collected in six thematic galleries of the Copernicus Science Centre.
In the Robotics Theatre - unique in the world - robots serve as actors, and the High Voltage Theatre is starring electricity.
The laboratories make it possible to carry out experiments in the following four fields: biology, chemistry, physics and robotics. The laboratories conduct classes for school groups and - at weekends - for whole families.
On a 16 metre high dome in the Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium, movie shows making it possible for the viewers to feel part of the present reality are screened. They concern a variety of popular science topics – those related to astronomy, nature and ethnography.
The Copernicus Science Centre implements also its programme activities, i.e. debates, discussions, workshops, activities related to the intersection of science and arts, as well as a range of innovative forms.
Who are the visitors to the Picnic?
What encouraged them to visit the event?
Had the visit an impact on their views and approaches?
Or did it help them choose their walk of life?
Sociological surveys have been conducted among the visitors to the Picnic for the past six years. They allow us not only to learn them better, but also to see how the visit to this event influenced them. Thanks to the opinions gathered in the surveys, the Picnic becomes more and more interesting and attractive with each year.
The visitors are persons in various ages – one out of three is between 25 and 50 years old, another one out of three are students (of primary schools as well as junior and senior high schools), 12% are university students. Almost 3 of the visitors lives in Warsaw. The visiting participants include the residents of almost all voivodships, yet the Mazovian voivodship dominates.
The highest number of persons have higher education (38.5%). Out of the persons declaring elementary education (27%) almost 90% are yet students before their maturity exam.
What encouraged them to visit the Picnic? Almost half of them wanted to spend their Saturday in an interesting way (49%) and expand their knowledge (almost 48%) and to bring science closer to children (28% of the respondents). Also, the variety of topics was important (almost 40%) and experiences from previous Picnics (37%) – the survey allowed to select a few answers. 10% persons below 25 years of age declared that Picnic let them make their educational plans more precise (selection of a course of study, class profile, etc.), 4% – that it helped them pick a profession.
How does Picnic influence the views, interests and approaches of the visitors?