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Outdoors and over the Internet - a summary of the 5th ŚFN KATOWICE

The fifth edition of the Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE is over. This was an exceptional edition for many reasons; first of all, for the first time the festival had its own outdoor area - more than 30,000 people visited the Rawa Scienceville on Sunday, 10 October. We would like to thank you all for this great turnout! This was also the first time when so many activities were available online, thanks to the Festival TV.

The word “festival” comes from the Latin festivus meaning “joyful, merry, festive”, and although ŚFN has always been a celebration of Silesian science, the last edition was, in our opinion, exceptionally joyful. The fact that the festival was held in an urban space made it more “accessible”. The lectures were extremely popular, even more so than in previous years, and they were held on 14 stages altogether; the vastness of the festival space generally encouraged people to explore it and find out more about the areas of knowledge located in the tent halls.

The Rawa Scienceville, stretching from Katowice's Market Square through ul. Teatralna, ul. Szkolna, ul. Moniuszki, and ul. Pańka, to the campus of the University of Silesia in Katowice in ul. Bankowa and the car park behind the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Silesia proved to make an excellent venue. We are glad that ŚFN has put such a strong emphasis on its presence in the urban space.  We are extremely happy that the festival in this form attracted people who happened to be in the centre of Katowice on that day, sometimes even a bit accidentally, and made them interested enough to stay in our Scienceville for longer. We already have a Culture Zone in Katowice and we would like to complement it with a Science Zone. By redesigning the city and university space for the duration of the 5th ŚFN, we indicated a direction we could take to make the Science Zone a reality.

The Rawa Scienceville was built around and along the Rawa River, which was the main theme of the Opening Gala, also held outdoors for the first time. We were very keen to draw the attention of our local community to its past, present, and potential future through the Festival (we succeeded), and to initiate, in agreement with the authorities of Katowice, an image change of the Rawa River and a change of urban space around it (we believe that we succeeded in this as well!). Please note that all it took was a little visual play with the light in the Rawa riverbed near ul. Moniuszki to give the Rawa in this place an unusual charm and atmosphere. This is an important and first such clear step on the way to a positive change of this space.

The Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE provides inspiring opportunities for meetings with numerous exhibitors, lecturers, workshop instructors, and special guests, both Polish and foreign. During the fifth edition, we were visited, on location and in virtual space, by such personalities as (in alphabetical order): Artur Andrus (his concert at the end of the outdoor ŚFN day was a hit!), Katarzyna Błażejewska-Stuhr, Prof. Robin Dunbar, Arkady Paweł Fiedler, Prof. Avi Loeb, Wojciech Orliński, Prof. David Price, Prof. Michał Rusinek, Emilia Skirmuntt, Mikołaj Sokół, Jolanta Wadowska-Król, Łukasz Wilczyński, and several dozen other interesting guests from the world of science and beyond.

One of the new elements in the festival programme was the Accessibility Zone. We wanted people who visited it to be able to experience to some extent the difficult reality of people with disabilities. We strive to make ŚFN even more accessible as a whole, so in addition to the option of a sign language interpreter for the hard of hearing, this year we introduced an assistance option in the form of an induction loop. Accessibility also applies to socially excluded people, some of whom are experiencing homelessness. Having them in mind, together with the representatives of the City Social Services Centre in Katowice, we prepared a support zone called the “Four walls of homelessness”, while streetworkers were operating during the festival. In that zone, 66 people facing the crisis of homelessness received a free hot meal, possibility to use a sanitary facility, and psychological and legal help.

The invitation by the authorities of our Voivodeship to become its ambassador during the world exhibition Expo 2020, which began in Dubai on 1 October and will last until 31 March next year, came as a huge sign of recognition for the idea of the Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE. We are delighted that ŚFN is considered to be an undertaking that provides a good picture of the change that Silesia and the Silesian Voivodeship are currently undergoing, and this transformation is all about making science the new industry of our region. We also deeply appreciate the cooperation with people involved in the preparation of the Polish Pavilion at Expo 2020, and several of them were guests at the Festival, such as Jan Pomierny, Łukasz Alwast, Andrzej Kotarba, PhD, Milena Ratajczak, PhD, Jack Lenk, Prof, Pedro Russo, Mateusz Wolski, and Maciej Siuda.

This year, the festival lasted nearly a whole week, and the five days during which various activities such as lectures, demonstrations, and workshops were available online were a great complement to the Rawa Scienceville. Lectures and science shows were broadcast on Festival TV, and workshops were available via the Zoom platform. Primary and secondary school teachers were very happy to be able to take part in the festival activities with their class groups, and the Zoom workshops were incredibly popular with a total of 39 workshops taking place and 1,950 people registering for them.

The Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE is really, without any fake modesty, an extraordinary event in many respects, regardless of whether it takes place indoors or outdoors. According to specialists from the event industry, there is no other such festival in Poland (apart from music festivals), organised in such a large space and requiring such an infrastructure. And the next edition of the Festival will take place in 2022 - we are already working on it!

Here are some of the most important figures of the 5th Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE:

4 – special zones at the disposal of the festival audience: Stanisław Lem Zone, Accessibility Zone, City and Water Zone, and Family Zone

6 – workshop tents (named after Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune)

9 – higher education institutions from the Silesian Voivodeship organising ŚFN (with the University of Silesia in Katowice as the originator and leader of the entire project)

13 – ŚFN Ambassadors (Jan Pomierny and Łukasz Wilczyński joined their ranks before the last edition)

14 – stages, including 5 area stages, where lectures and meetings with special guests took place

24 – art exhibitions in the buildings of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Silesia, the Scientific Information Centre and Academic Library (CINiBA), and the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Silesia

39 – online workshops conducted over five days (from 11 to 15 October)

66 – people facing a crisis of homelessness who received help in the “Four Walls of Homelessness” space

70 – special guests from Poland and abroad performed (on location and online) during the fifth edition of the ŚFN

117 – workshops in total took place during the 5th ŚFN

183 – exhibition stands open to the public in five fields of knowledge

285 – lectures delivered in the Rawa Scienceville and online

1934 – people who used free public transport tickets from ZTM (one of the partners of ŚFN) on Sunday, 10 October

30,000 – according to our estimates, that was the number of people who visited the Rawa Scienceville 

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