Article

21/11/2017

This study explored how different presentations of an object in deep space affect understanding, engagement, and aesthetic appreciation. A total of n = 2,502 respondents to an online survey were randomly assigned to one of 11 versions of Cassiopeia A, comprising 6 images and 5 videos ranging from 3s to approximately 1min. Participants responded to intial items regarding what the image looked like, the aesthetic appeal of the image, perceptions of understanding, and how much the participant wanted to learn more. After the image was identified, participants indicated the extent to which the label increased understanding and how well the image represented the object. A final item asked for questions about the image for an atronomer. Results suggest that alternative types of images can and should be used, provided they are accompanied by explanations. Qualitative data indicated that explanations should include information about colors used, size, scale, and location of the object. The results are discussed in terms of science communication to the public in the face of increasing use of technology.

12/10/2017

Research suggests non-experts associate different content with the terms “global warming” and “climate change.” We test this claim with Twitter content using supervised learning software to categorize tweets by topic and explore differences between content using “global warming” and “climate change” between 1 January 2012 and 31 March 2014. Twitter data were combined with temperature records to observe the extent to which temperature was associated with Twitter discussions. We then used two case studies to examine the relationship between extreme temperature events and Twitter content. Our findings underscore the importance of considering climate change communication on social media.

20/09/2017

In June of 2014, geologists reported that, for the first time, more earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 occurred in Oklahoma than in California [Terry-Cobo, 2014]. In Oklahoma, the frequency of earthquakes that are strong enough to be felt has increased 44 times in recent years and this has been correlated to a dramatic increase in high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) operations [Hume, 2014]. The aims of this study are: (1) to determine how hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, and Oklahoma earthquakes are framed by print-based media at the local, national, and international levels; (2) to understand how the association between these factors has evolved over time; and (3) to further analyze the differences between experts on the subjects of causality and threat characterization (e.g., severity). A total of 169 print news reports were included for analysis: 48 local/Oklahoma reports (28% of total sample), 72 national reports (42% of total sample) and 49 international news reports (30% of total sample). The findings reveal significant differences in the frame techniques, sources of information, and the foci of subject matter between three different media scales in print based media. Results, discussion and implications are provided.

18/09/2017

Science communicators develop qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate the ‘impact’ of their work however narrative is rarely adopted as a form of evaluation. We posit narrative as an evaluative approach for research projects with a core science communication element and offer several narrative methods to be trialled. We use citizen science projects as an example of science communication research seeking to gain knowledge of participant-emergent themes via evaluations. Storied experience of participant involvement enhances understanding of context-based and often intangible processes, such as changing place-relations, values, and self-efficacy, by enabling a reflective space for critical-thinking and self-reflection.

12/09/2017

To unravel how science museums can prepare citizens for reflection on research and innovation, this study evaluates a playful exhibit prototype, Opinion Lab (OL). The OL made children and parents reflect on synthetic biology (SB), supported by conversation exercises, citizen-narratives, and futuristic scenarios. We analysed 26 OL test sessions performed in NEMO science museum Amsterdam. The prototype appeared to support participants in opinion forming, counter-argument incorporation and extrapolation. Also, reflection on deeper questions such as `what is nature?' evoked understanding for alternative viewpoints. These findings show that playful exhibits, like the OL, potentially facilitate dialogue in science museums very well.

04/09/2017

This study aims to test the perceptions of audiences to positive and non-aggressive humour in two popular articles. The themes were the effects of climate change on biodiversity and the over-exploitation of species. Both articles were published on-line at a Portuguese environmental site, and readers were asked to answer to an on-line survey. A total of 159 participants submitted their answers concerning their receptiveness to the humour, demographic information and comments. Results showed that the use of humour in popular articles is considered valuable for the majority of these readers, but different degrees of receptiveness suggest caution in its use.

20/07/2017

Modern science communication has emerged over the last 60 years as a field of study, a body of practice and a profession. This period has seen the birth of interactive science centres, the first university courses to teach the theory and practice of science communication, the first university departments conducting research into science communication, and a sharp growth in employment of science communicators by research institutions, universities, museums, science centres and industry. This chapter charts the emergence of modern science communication in Australia, against an international background.

20/07/2017

The history of science communication in Aotearoa New Zealand starts with the stories told by the indigenous Māori people and has often been rooted in large, controversial environmental or technological issues. Although science communication in New Zealand began with a culture of wise men informing an uneducated public, by the 1990s it had begun to explore ideas of public outreach and engagement. Driven in part by the country's landscape and unique wildlife, media such as film documentary have risen to take centre stage in public engagement with science. Public radio also features in discussion of scientific issues. New centres for the training of science communicators have emerged and there is governmental and public support for science communication in New Zealand, as demonstrated by the number of awards and funding opportunities offered annually, for those who achieve. However a more critical and strategic approach to science communication in the future is needed if New Zealand wants a more science-literate public, and a more public-literate science community.

20/07/2017

The research field of science communication is fairly neglected in South Africa. The university system in South Africa, with a few exceptions, pays scant attention to the teaching of science communication, leading to limited academic knowledge of this research field with its rich history and philosophical relations. This paper explores some of the reasons behind this neglect of science communication in South Africa and will argue and demonstrate that, primarily, two political systems can be identified as having had a profound impact on the lesser attention given to this research field; the ‘divide and rule’ system of British colonialism and the Afrikaner National Party ‘apartheid’ system of racial segregation.

20/07/2017

In this paper, we identify some milestones in the construction process for mobile science museums and centres in Brazil. As background for presenting the Brazilian context, we initially address the records found on the earliest travelling museum exhibitions and mobile museums in Europe and North America. We then introduce the role of UNESCO in the promotion and implementation of travelling science exhibitions and museums in several countries. Finally, we document important events in the history of mobile science museum and centres in Brazil and outline three general and inter-related challenges currently faced by them.

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