outreach

 

The Peabody, Yale, and Natural History: an Interview with Richard Conniff

Posted 14 April 2016 by Matt Shipman

I first visited the Peabody Museum of Natural History in the company of hundreds of science writers. The museum was hosting a social event for the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, which gave me the opportunity to explore its exhibits in the company of people who were exceptionally well-informed and gifted storytellers. It was the best possible introduction. I visited again a few years later, this time in the company of family and friends. The enthusiasm... Read more

What Scientists Want Out Of Online Engagement

Posted 10 March 2016 by Matt Shipman

A recent article published in PLOS ONE looked at what scientists hope to achieve when engaging with the public online – via websites, blogs or social networks. The findings are interesting. Among other things, the study reports that scientists give the lowest priority to the communication objectives that may be most useful for actually engaging effectively with the public. The article, “Scientists’ Prioritization of Communication Objectives for Public Engagement,” was published Feb. 25. The paper was co-authored by Anthony Dudo... Read more

Paper Drives Home How Much Politics Influences Attitudes Toward Science Issues

Posted 3 March 2016 by Matt Shipman

  A recent paper in the journal Science Communication drives home the extent to which political identity – and the way we communicate about science – can influence a person’s attitude toward scientific issues. Here’s the short version: a study that measured the public’s response to a local water quality issue found that the more people knew about the relevant science, the more they supported an environmental science solution. However, if the water quality issue was framed as being related... Read more

Science and Community Engagement: an Interview with Lou Woodley

Posted 12 November 2015 by Matt Shipman

On Nov. 3, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced a new fellowship program focused on community engagement in the science community. This makes me curious. The new venture, called the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows program, was launched with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The goal, according to a AAAS news release, is to “professionalize and institutionalize the role of community engagement managers in the scientific community” and “provide training and professional development for up... Read more

No, Writing Intelligibly Is Not ‘Dumbing It Down’

Posted 8 June 2015 by Matt Shipman

My list of pet peeves is pretty short. I can’t stand things that are misspelled intentionally (nothing should ever be “kwik” or “lite”). I don’t like rude people. And I can’t stand it when people talk about science communication as “dumbing it down.” Ugh. People usually use the phrase “dumbing it down” to refer to instances when someone who is writing or talking about science refrains from using jargon, as if the absence of jargon somehow changes the work that’s... Read more

‘How Long Is a Blue Whale?’ Kids, Science, and Scribbling on the Sidewalk

Posted 26 May 2015 by Matt Shipman

I love science. And I want my kids to love science. But before they love it, I have to get them to like it. Luckily, this is pretty easy. My kids, like most kids, are drawn to insects, sharks, dinosaurs, horses and a wide variety of other critters. Fostering this interest in living things (or, occasionally, prehistoric things) has been a fun and easy way to encourage their interest in science. My plan is to parlay their fascination in animals... Read more

Science Communication Needs and Best Practice: What Would a Top Ten List Look Like?

Posted 14 January 2015 by Matt Shipman

A new paper offers up a “top 10” list of science communication (scicomm) challenges and potential solutions – but also highlights the flaws in the list. I’m hoping it can be a starting point for a discussion that could help people address at least some of the scicomm problems they’re grappling with. Background Here’s the deal: science communication can be a tricky business. It can be defined in a wide variety of ways, and includes a host of different interests... Read more

Shirts, Science Communication, and Why Appearances Can Be Important

Posted 14 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

On Nov. 12, a robot launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) about ten years ago landed on a comet approximately 300 million miles away. Which is (literally) awesome. But this blog is about science communication, so I want to talk about a shirt. One of the ESA staffers prominently featured in coverage of the landing was Matt Taylor, who is head scientist on the project. Taylor is an intelligent guy, but he made the unfortunate decision to wear a... Read more

Beyond The News Release – How PIOs Can Connect With The Public

Posted 18 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Public information officers (PIOs) at research institutions are responsible for helping their employers connect with the public. Often this is through conventional media relations and social media efforts. But sometimes PIOs can find other ways, unconventional ways, of connecting with various audiences. To explore these issues, Karen Kreeger, senior science communications manager at Penn Medicine, organized a session for this year’s National Association of Science Writers meeting at Ohio State University. The session, “Beyond the News Release Grind: Connecting with... Read more

Hands-On Science For Kids: An Interview with Liz Heinecke

Posted 6 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Anyone who spends time with children knows that they are information sponges, eager to learn new things. But, in my experience, they can also have incredibly short attention spans. So if you want kids to be passionate about science, you will likely have to do more than just give them a book. One way to capture (and keep) a child’s interest is to give him or her the freedom to make a mess, shoot a rocket or make candy. In... Read more