The Inventions Fair
It consists of an exhibition that gathers scientific prototypes, models and devices developed in the research institutes and centers of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV). It is a highly visual way of taking research out of the laboratories to put it in the spotlight.
In 2010, the UPV exhibited the 4th edition. It was open to the public from November 3rd (Wednesday) to 12th (Friday) in the exhibition hall of the School of Architecture (building 2D of the Vera campus). In all, the audience was able to see nearly twenty inventions by the UPV.
Among other prototypes, the following ones were exposed: the smart scale (it informs of the calories that are going to be ingested in a meal), the PET technology for the early detection of cancer, Ecocustom (a vehicle that reaches 100 km/h and covers 97 km with just a litre of fuel), Labplayer (it makes it possible to put a drop of blood or water on a CD and to obtain the results of the tests in a conventional CD player), and many more.
Strategies for each profile
The initiative was aimed at three different kinds of public: secondary school students, particular visitors (both members of the university - students, teachers and administration staff- and outside visitors) and communication media. That's the reason why the exhibition was open during the morning and the afternoon.
To be able to attend schools and institutes, guided visits were created. In these visits, a university student accompanied a group made up to 20 secondary school students, explained them one by one the exposed prototypes and solved their doubts and questions. A total of 976 secondary school students of 28 different centres went all over the Inventions Fair.
For particular visitors, a catalog was edited with information and images of every exposed model. 1,500 copies were printed; they were at the entrance of the exhibition hall and the audience could take them for free. At least 1,030 visits were registered during the eight days in which the Inventions Fair was open to the public.
For the press
Finally, a person responsible for communication in the UPV was in charge of answering specifically the needs of the press, radio and television. Eight TV teams recorded images and interviewed the researchers responsible for the project (including two live connections), two radio stations broadcasted reports about the exhibition and 24 reviews in the written press (seven in local and national newspapers and 17 in digital editions) were published. Just the report broadcasted in the TVE news program in prime-time was followed by more than three million viewers.
As a support for the initiative, a webpage was created where you could find the images of the prototypes, a brief description and links to the research groups responsible for each project. In all, according to the Google Analytics tools, the website reached the 11,419 viewed pages and the exclusive contents of the Invention Fair got the figure of 2,380 and an average of nearly 3-minutes stay in the webpage.
And, to publicize the initiative, two pieces of news were published in the website of the Universitat Politècnica de València (they amounted to 6,859 viewed pages).
Moreover, an e-mail was sent to the 1,594 e-mail addresses of secondary schools of the Valencian Community and two press releases were issued.
Two kinds of surveys were prepared: one for the secondary school students that had the guided visit (they were handed and collected in person) and another for particular visitors (they were invited to fill in the form that was available at the exit of the exhibition hall). From the first survey, 710 answers were obtained; from the free visitors, 457. In all, 1.167 opinions were gathered.
In a scale from 0 to 10, students rated the interest of prototypes with a 7.20 and the general attractive of the exhibition with 6.82 points. Regarding visitors, they rated the interest of the prototypes with a 7.50 and the general attractive of the exhibition with a 6.95.
Students wrote up to 175 comments, among others: 'Science is cool!!'; 'I would like that more of these activities were organized', 'I enjoyed this visit a lot', 'I would like to repeat', or 'Very funny'. And we could also read the following suggestions: 'The Inventions Fair would be more interesting if it was more interactive'; 'I think that this exhibition would be more useful if you could try the exposed objects', or 'It has not impressed me because science already does'.
Visitors left 77 opinions, among others: 'Exhibiting the inventions is a way of knowing the research activities. It is very positive'; 'It is very nice that this kind of exhibitions are carried out to contribute to make everybody see and feel the advances produced in our society'; 'I hope this can be repeated' or 'This is the future'. In the section 'suggestions', we found: 'It would be interesting to count on the presence of the inventors or of the staff involved in the development'; 'It is necessary to involve the companies', or 'I want to touch and try the inventions, see that they work.'
Originality of the proposal
Exhibiting research of its own, carried out inside an institution, is an original, very visual and attractive initiative and, inside its category, unprecedented. At the same time, it is a proposal that can be easily transferred to other entities or consortiums (for instance: the universities of the same town or region can exhibit together their own prototypes and patents). This can even be done virtually, replacing the exhibition room by an Internet site, and replacing the prototypes and the models by videos and 3D models.