21 October 2009

One million viewers can't be mistaken

The Faculty of Science at The University of Copenhagen has announced an international film competition, after one of their student films has been seen by over 1 million viewers on Youtube and other popular web channels. Amongst other things, this has lead to double the number of international students choosing to study science at University of Copenhagen than before. Head of Communication at the Faculty of Science Joakim Groth, talking about the competition, said "There is a need to 'de-nerd' science".

It pays to be a little cheeky - without compromising the underlying serious message - if you want to get young people to study science and thereby ensure science and its results in the future.

The Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen knows how true that statement is. Last year the faculty's communications department held a film competition "Moving Science 2009" to try and attract more students to subjects such as biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, geography and nanoscience. And it is has really paid off for these fields, which are not normally amongst the most popular with new students.

Among the winning films, was one called "The Power to Create". It tells a short, clever story about a pretty young blonde in high heels, who walks past a laboratory, where white coated nerds are sitting bent over their test tubes. The result is that the young scientists clone her, so that it ends with several of her walking around - to the "original's" horror.

The film has received a lot of attention from around the world, after being posted on Youtube and other popular web channels. More than a million viewers have now seen the film, which was produced by the young film director Thea Friborg from Aarhus and it is also she who stars as the cloned blonde in the film. The film has lead to a doubling in the number of international full degree graduate students at the Faculty of Science this year, from 37 to 75. The success of the film also means that a new competition "Moving Science 2010" has been launched, which is aimed at young film enthusiasts from Denmark and abroad, with a good idea that can be put into a short film, lasting less than 5 minutes.

"There are many ways to recruit new students. The film competition has shown us that film and the internet are some of the best methods, as these are young people's media. And who says studying science has to be boring, even if, of course, there is a difference between an advert and the reality of life in a lab and sitting in front of a computer or books," says Joakim Groth.

The number of new bachelor students enrolled at the Faculty of Science has increased from 750 in 2008 to 1112 new students in 2009. That is an increase of 48%. A survey carried out amongst this year's new students has shown that the increase is not a coincidence. The survey revealed that over 60% of the new students had seen the communications department's recruitment film. 20% of the students said that the film had had a large influence on their choice of subject.

"As a media, film is good at showing and creating feelings. And in this context it has also shown that it is good at 'de-nerding' and humanizing science, which, in reality, are exciting and meaningful," emphasizes Joakim Groth.

The deadline for entrants to the new film competition "Moving Science 2010" is 4 January next year. Everyone is welcome to enter the competition, which has prizes worth a total of 50,000 DKK.

If you are interested you can find out more about the competition and see the film "The Power to Create" at www.science.ku.dk/film

Further Information: Head of Communications Joakim Groth on mobile no. +45 28 75 42 86 or journalist Svend Thaning on mobil no. +45 28 75 42 81.