We believe that science outreach is an important part of our work, and participate as much as possible.

Here are some of the most recent highlights.

Informed birds outreach on May Day

Since 2021 the Informed Birds research group reaches out to the general public at a traditional May day event called Vappushokkelo.

The event has been organized by University of Helsinki biology students for 60 years, and aimed mainly at kids and families. It attracts between 6 000 – 12 000 visitors annually, offering a wonderful opportunity for scientific outreach. The theme changes every year - for instance, in 2022 the theme was “Finnish nature”, and in 2023, the “Forests”.

Our research group organises an activity that gives the visitors a chance to experience the daily life of our study species first-hand – what is it like to be a reed warbler nesting in Finland? In our activity, the participants build their own nest, search for food items, ‘lay’ eggs and finally try to detect an egg of a brood parasitic cuckoo that has appeared among their own clutch. The game imitates the decisions and interactions that reed warblers are involved in during their short but important breeding season here at the species’ northern range edge, thus introducing key questions studied in the group (within Organismal and Evolutionary Biology research programme OEB/Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences HiLife and the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences).  

  At the event participants can also find other OEB research groups presenting their work among kids’ activities, live animals, pancake sales etc., so lots of things to see and enjoy in Kumpula gardens, traditionally between 10-17 on 1st of May (check for updated times and dates). Prepare for a small entrance fee gathered by the biology student organization Symbioosi who direct part of the money to nature conservation, some queueing, and, depending on weather, some rain! 

More information: http://www.vappushokkelo.com/ 

Informed Birds at Vantaa international school

Rose Thorogood’s group shared their behavioural ecology research on cuckoos and hosts to students at the Internationalschool of Vantaa. Both parties learned a lot from the experience –students got an idea of how and why we collect data about wild animals’ behaviour, and us researchers got experience in how to explain science in a more interactive and engaging way.

The Informed Birds group recently had an opportunity to tell high-school students from the International school of Vantaa about how we study behavioural ecology. The outreach was initiated by the teacher Veera Piironen, who teaches a voluntary class of Animal behaviour to 14-year-olds and became interested in our research based on ESB web pages and previous field experience with KatjaRönkä. Keen to expand on Informed Bird’swell-attended Vappushokkelo outreach to families and children, we gathered to brainstorm what to present to a new type of audience. With a program consisting of the basics of behavioural ecology, the types of questions we study and practical examples of the methods we use, we set out to Vantaa on November 29th.

Despite some hiccups with computers, videos, printers and snowfall, and the teacher being substituted due to sudden illness, we managed to have an information rich two hours with the students. They got to hear about how studies on behavioural ecology can be applied to e.g. improve wild animal welfare in Zoos (where PhD Nora Bergman has worked) and make links between an animal’s ability to learn from others and how that might affect evolution. Despite evolution not being part of their curriculum so far, the students immediately got the idea of changes in populations through generations. After an introduction talk from Rose, the students got their hands on our field equipment including a cuckoo model and a real reed warbler nest, and then watched and scored from videos how reed warblerparentsbehavewhen they find a ‘cuckoo’ at their nest. A highlight was sharing with the students how each of us researchers at different career stages had ended up studying avian brood parasitism in the group.

In turn, we learned about the practicalities of the Finnish education system and connecting with teenagers from different backgrounds. Everyone was very interested to hear how one group member had dropped out of school at around the age of the students, and then later took on university studies after finding interest in sea slugs! Once back to work, Veera sent us feedback from the students: they had learned about cuckoo behaviour and how to study birds, and had lots of fun –they found our 3D-printed cuckoo and some of us researchers particularly ‘cuckoo’, i.e. entertaining!

Hihi Conservation Science evening 2020

Our extended group members are participating in an online event about hihi - an intriguing and somewhat bizarre threatened bird species that now occurs on only one island in the world, except for the conservation sites where it has been reintroduced and studied intensively for over 25 years. Now’s your chance to learn about a wide range of aspects of their biology and conservation from the comfort of your living room.

The talks start at 9.30am Thursday 10th September, Helsinki-time, and are pitched at a general lay-person audience, and will cover population genomics, indirect genetic effects, behaviour, and conservation applications. 

You can register here and listen in to as many of the talks as you like

The 137th Anniversary Symposium of The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim

The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim is a scientific association for developing professional skills of doctors through education, publications and grants. Emma gave a talk (in Finnish) in their annual symposium on how evolutionary thinking and studies done on other animals, such as mongooses, can help us understand how societal inequality impacts health and aging in humans. 

Science Slam

Science Slam is an international consept, where scientists communicate their science in a laidback manner. Three of our PhD students won the Science Slam Helsinki 2018 competition with their compelling story of the complicated, yet exiting life of an ant called Dory.

Cannibal Larvae

"Did you think ants are always cooperative? These wood ant larvae cannibalizing their nest mates suggests otherwise!"  Video by Outgroup - Science Visually.

Vaccinating Honey Bees

In this video you can see how experimental work with bees looks like. Video from summer 2017 by Outgroup - Science Visually.


Ötökkäakatemia is a collaborative science communication project between three research groups in University of Oulu and in University of Helsinki. Several ESB researchers are involved in the project. The aim of the project is to introduce entomological research through social media and also bringing science to people in different events. The language of this project is Finnish. http://www.ötökkäakatemia.fi/

Tvärminne Open House

Tvärminne Zoological Station in Hanko archipelago, hosts a regular Open House outreach event in which our researcher always contribute.