Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition goes digital for Summer Science Online - 13 - 17 July 2020

01 July 2020

For the first time in its history, the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition will not be held in person – but will instead bring the UK’s most cutting edge research to the public in a whole new way, Summer Science Online.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Society has put together a fantastic digital programme premiering live video content to be streamed on its YouTube and social media channels from 13 to 17 July 2020.

During the week-long event, visitors will get the chance to take part in an interactive question and answer session with a panel of space experts (Friday 17 July, 2 – 4pm) as well as the family friendly big Summer Science quiz (Monday 13 July, 6 – 7pm). Test your science knowledge with Royal Society Fellows including Professor Brian Cox and special guests such as space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, BBC science presenter Dr Adam Rutherford and Blue Peter presenter-turned-author Konnie Huq.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “The Summer Science Exhibition is a celebration of the most exciting research around the UK where the public are invited in to ask questions, discover and be inspired.

“This year, the exhibition is coming to you in a different form. We have incredible online events, and brilliant scientists sharing their research and testing your knowledge. While I hope we will all be back at the Society next year, this is a unique opportunity to try new approaches and reach an even wider audience. I hope you will join us throughout the week to explore historic and cutting-edge science from across the UK.”

Cosmologist Professor Carlos Frenk FRS, Chair of the Royal Society’s Public Engagement Committee, said: “The importance of science to society, and in our daily lives, has never been as much in evidence as in the past few months. While this year's Summer Science will not be celebrating the UK's most exciting, transformational, research under the Society's roof, I hope that the brilliant digital highlights we have picked out will inspire an even wider audience to get excited about science and take a closer look at the world around them - and we look forward to welcoming you in person at Summer Science next year.”

Find out about the science of creating an artistic masterpiece, doping in sport or what our pets are really thinking with an animal cognition scientist – or join intrepid Antarctic explorers, without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home.

There will also be a chance to see how young school scientists have been carrying out their own research, with support from local universities and a grant from the Royal Society. This spotlight session will show off what they’ve found from tracking the weather and repurposing plastic waste as well as wonderful wildlife sightings.

Other sessions will discover a hidden world only visible through a microscope, decipher how chemical catalysts create sustainable energy, explore exotic planets orbiting distant stars and delve into the history of the Summer Science Exhibition with the Society’s librarian Keith Moore.

Aspiring weather forecasters and armchair meteorologists alike can dive deeper on the Google Arts & Culture platform, with a six-part online series from the Royal Society and Met Office exploring the journey from the roots of weather lore like ‘red sky at night’, through early weather science to the founding of the Met Office and beyond.

There will even be a special episode of YouTube’s Objectivity series, where Keith Moore and presenter Brady Haran will take you on a virtual exploration of the history of the Summer Science Exhibition over the Society’s 350-year history. 

Summer Science Online will cater for ages 12+ and is totally free. To access the online exhibition, visitors should subscribe to the Royal Society’s YouTube channel, and follow us on Twitter @royalsociety using #summerscience or Facebook @theroyalsociety. The programme can be accessed outside the scheduled times, 24 hours a day.

The full programme for the week can be found here:

Event highlights

The big Summer Science quiz, Monday 13 July, 6 – 7pm

Join our big family-friendly online quiz evening with a host of special guests and Fellows of the Royal Society pitching questions on their favourite topics. With rounds on movies, space, the elements and more, including one for our younger viewers, get your team together, grab a pen and paper and go for quiz glory.

Objectivity, Summer Science special, Thursday 16 July, 3 – 4pm

YouTube’s favourite historian Brady Haran join’s chief librarian Keith Moore for a rummage in the archives of the Summer Science Exhibition, for a special edition from the Objectivity team.

Ask the SpaceXperts, Friday 17 July, 2 – 4pm

What are black holes? Are we alone in the Universe? How do rockets work? This is your chance to quiz our collection of space experts in this live Q&A. We’ll be joined by previous exhibitors from across the years to help us explore the answers to some of the biggest questions about the Universe.

Adventures in Antarctica, Tuesday 14 July, 3 – 3.15pm

Join Professor Eric Wolff on his field trip to the snowy wonderland that is Antarctica. In this short film we follow Professor Wolff and his team as they drill 650 metres into the West Antarctic ice sheet, unlocking the secret of earth's past climate, and allowing us a glimpse at the future.

Young Researchers spotlight, Thursday 16 July, 10.15- 10.45am

Join this spotlight session exploring footage from young researchers undertaking investigative science projects in schools and colleges around the UK as part of the Partnership Grants scheme.

Micrographia: turning the pages, Monday 13 July, 10.30- 11am

Discover a hidden world only visible to us when viewed through the microscope. Robert Hooke’s pioneering book of scientific illustrations, Micrographia, is released on the Turning the pages platform for the first time and available to view in all its microscopic beauty.

Stormy weather

A six-part series, running throughout the week, looking at weather lore, early science of the weather, meteorological observations, foundations of the Met Office, citizen science and numerical weather prediction and supercomputers.

What are they up to now?

Ever wonder what our researchers do once the Summer Science Exhibition is finished? We catch up with some of our previous exhibitors throughout the week to find out what’s new with their research since their time at the Exhibition.

And much more