I wanted to wait until after die Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften to blog since I figured it would be an experience worth talking about…I was right about that!
The Night went really well actually, though it was tremendously busy. This is, of course, a good thing since that meant we were able to get a lot of participants for the study; it also meant I was on my feet measuring people’s grip strengths and hip-to-waist ratios while speaking German for about 5.5 hours! The time flew by as it tends to do when your preoccupied by a steady flow of participants, but I was definitely tired by the end.
My job in particular was to administer the fitness test, part 2 of the data collection process; part 1 was an online survey inquiring about the participants’ demographics and physical activity patterns. The fitness test was comprised of 3 parts: a balance test, a hand grip strength test, and a hip/waist measurement. Although these things don’t seem particularly meaningful at first glance, there is actually a lot of research that supports these tests as indicators of one’s health. For example, hip-to-waist ratios (calculated by dividing hip by waist) are considered a more valid and reliable measurement for determining who is of a normal weight, who is overweight, and who is obese than BMI measurements. I believe this has something to do with the fact that an accumulation of fat in the waist area can be more unhealthy than more fat overall distributed evenly throughout the body. Anyway, it was my job to administer these tests and record the results for each participant, and there were so many people I almost never stopped until the end.
I really enjoyed this night. Not only did I get A LOT of German practice, I also got a hands-on idea of what real data collection looks like and how important it is to be consistent and precise while doing so. Beyond that, the idea of a research festival like this, wherein community members can come and view the projects as well as be a part of them, was a truly novel idea for me and one I think has great benefits. The most obvious benefit is the ease of getting study subjects; a less obvious one is that the community gets to be involved and informed about what their public institutions are up to. The inclusion of the public in research is often undervalued, but also supremely important for the success of projects and research-based intervention.