April 2, 2013

University of Oslo is at The Gathering

(Published on Titan: Morten Dæhlen's blog April 2, 2013.)

Report from the Viking Ship in Hamar

It thunders in the Viking Ship when there is a show from the main stage at The Gathering. With a sound system of 200 000 Watts, it is important with ear plugs. Amidst an ocean of sound and light and thousands of monitors and computers, you will find University of Oslo's booth. Guests are welcomed by friendly students for an informal conversations about science, research and, not least, study opportunities. We are at The Gathering to get to know the participants and, not least, to let them get to know us. Our goal is to inspire!

University of Oslo's booth, very visibile from oll of the Viking Ship.
University of Oslo's booth, very visibile from oll of the Viking Ship.

Alternative Science Communication

When the University of Oslo is present in the Viking Ship, we are talking about science communication on alternative premisses. The vast majority are at The Gathering to play computer games, participate in competitions, socialize, and have fun. We want to emphasize that there is no contradiction between all this and science, research and studies. One of our goals is to inspire young people to study. We do this by contributing to the large data party, The Gathering, in a variety of ways.

3D-printeren til Åpen sone for eksperimentell informatikk i aksjon!
3D-printeren til Åpen sone for eksperimentell informatikk i aksjon!
3D-printeren skriver ut en liten robot.
3D-printeren skriver ut en liten robot.
Temaet for årets TG var singularitet. Derfor hadde vi med oss singularitetssjakk.
Temaet for årets TG var singularitet. Derfor hadde vi med oss singularitetssjakk.

First and foremost, we hold many courses and lectures for the participants, and we are in our booth with exciting activities. We are trying to tell a story about science and research that fascinates.

Papir Plane Physics. An example of the alternative science communication, where Andreas Nakkerud explains physical principles using paper plane folding.
Papir Plane Physics. An example of the alternative science communication, where Andreas Nakkerud explains physical principles using paper plane folding.

Personal Contact

In University of Oslo's booth there is continuously conversations about science and studies, not only about computer science and natural science, but also about the other subjects you can find at the University of Oslo. (If you think that the TG participants are only interested in computers, you're wrong.) We believe that all these personal meetings and discussions with hundreds of attendees over the course of four days, have a significant effect.

In University of Oslo's booth, the participants could meet our robot, Nao, who regularly who broke into dance to Gangnam Style.
In University of Oslo's booth, the participants could meet our robot, Nao, who regularly who broke into dance to Gangnam Style.
Peter meeting a young participant. Here playing singularity chess.
Peter meeting a young participant. Here playing singularity chess.

The Pleasure of Coding and Personal Participation

However, we also take part in the pleasure of coding in other ways. Every day we have had live programming on a big screen, where the participants could talk with experienced students, ask questions and participate in the programming themselves.

Participants in front of the big screen, where live programming is happening.
Participants in front of the big screen, where live programming is happening.

Our students have during the entire spring also produced two of the main competitions for The Gathering. Both of these inspire learning and understanding, and got an overwhelming number of participants. One is the traditional competition in artificial intelligence programming (made by Jonny, Srod, Persijn and Emil), where to aim is to create a computer program that plays better than the other programs..

From the final of artificial intelligence programming.
From the final of artificial intelligence programming.

The second is a "hacking competition " (made by Julian, Aleksi, Hans, Peter and Arne), where you can try on a variety of tasks (from simple tasks in the browser, to harder decryption tasks).

Julian, responsible for the hacking competition, in deep concentration and with full control over the hundreds of participants who tried to solve all the puzzles.
Julian, responsible for the hacking competition, in deep concentration and with full control over the hundreds of participants who tried to solve all the puzzles.
In the hacking competition, there were also several tasks they had to solve physically, ranging from electronic circuits to lock picking.
In the hacking competition, there were also several tasks they had to solve physically, ranging from electronic circuits to lock picking.

Our Talented Students

We have once again been involved in contributing to The Gathering with an extra dimension: a little taste of science and what it is like to be a student at the University of Oslo. However, it's intense to be at The Gathering, and there are many who deserve a great thanks. This is a four day data party, but it is also the days before and after, and the months of preparation and lots of planning, that goes into The Gathering. When it comes down to it, it is our talented students who has made this possible.

Here are University students keeping track of everything that happens.
Here are University students keeping track of everything that happens.
Veronika Heimsbakk, an undergraduate student at the Department of Informatics, has coordinated the University participation.
Veronika Heimsbakk, an undergraduate student at the Department of Informatics, has coordinated the University participation.

Photo: Sjur Fredriksen (See https://www.flickr.com/photos/94423478@N03/.)

by Roger Antonsen