CMIL Takes on Outreach with SciFund
As aspiring scientists, graduate school is our training arena. While learning the key scientific principles of our field and applying them to new and exciting research, we often find the need to hone our skills. One of the most important skills a scientist can have is to communicate with non-scientists. Why is this so important? Effective science communication and outreach with the public can increase interest in education initiatives, solicit volunteers to help conduct the research, and make or break funding for a research project, and. So to brush up on our science communication skills we recently participated in the first ever #SciFund Outreach Training Class
Our lovely SciFund Outreach Training Course instructors using a recorded google hangout session to describe our weekly assignments.
The month-long #SciFund Outreach course was crafted for researchers from all fields interested in learning how to talk the (science) talk, so to speak. A whopping 171 researchers from 18 countries around the world participated, including 4 students from SDSU! Together we learned how to communicate science in effective and creative ways, building a supportive global “sci-com” community along the way. Our community was made up of scientists and non-scientists, bloggers, podcasters, and general internet enthusiasts. This group made sure we had and continue to have the support, resources, and encouragement we need to make all of our science outreach and communication dreams come true.
Most course participants were from the US, but there was a relatively high diversity of participants from around the world.
The coolest thing about the class was that we interacted with scientists from different fields on different continents. Together we learned how to “do” different types of science outreach, and how to translate our passion for science with the communities around us. We learned how to improve the basics like elevator pitches, as well as less traditional methods of science outreach like comics and podcasting. As a community, we provided each other with feedback on blogging, presentations, and social media.
We used the Message Box method to identify the parts of our research that were most important for a particular type of non-scientific audience.
Scientists use outreach to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to understand, appreciate, and enjoy science. By improving our science communication skills, we can be a part of the global movement to transform science into something accessible and exciting. We hope to motivate students to pursue a career in science and garner support from adults for science education. [Check out the full article to see the lessons we learned!]
If you’re interested in getting involved with outreach, check out some of our favorite local programs and online outreach initiatives:
SEA, UC San Diego’s Student Education Advancement program
SDSA, San Diego Science Alliance
Salk Institute’s education outreach program
MEBSA, San Diego State University’s Marine Ecology and Biology Student Association
PLOS ONE, a peer reviewed open access research journal
#SciFund Challenge, a fantastic resource on science outreach courses and methods
Deep Sea News, a blog devoted to marine science outreach
We want to offer our deepest thanks to our instructors for the #SciFund Outreach Training Class: Dr. Jai Ranganathan, Dr. Anthony Salvagno, Dr. Siouxsie Wiles, and Dr. Kelly Weinersmith.
Author: Priya Shukla, M.S. student, and Violet Compton, Ph.D. Candidate, contact at email@example.com