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53 publications found

Jul 01, 2024 Article
Brazilian National Science and Technology Week: a case study on engagement behaviors and impacts on the public

by Wilmo Ernesto Francisco Junior

This practice insight describes a case study in which structured observation and questionnaires (for visitors and presenters) were combined to investigate a public science event during Brazilian National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) in 2019. A very large proportion of participants (68.6% of visitors and 25 of the 31 presenters) had been unaware of the NSTW. Among those visitors who showed initial engagement, more than half progressed towards more effective engagement behaviors. The relaxed atmosphere favored the public's participation. Activities in generic locations in less favored areas are relevant to reach out to a diverse audience. Further research is recommended for critical assessment of similar events.

Volume 23 • Issue 05 • 2024

May 20, 2024 Practice Insight
Hands-on climate engagement: principles for effective hands-on activities and demonstrations

by Angus Croak and Graham J. Walker

Communicating climate change to foster engagement and action is a challenge for science communication requiring novel, creative and diverse methods. In this practice reflection, we explore the potential of climate change related hands-on activities and demonstrations. Following a rapidly implemented COVID-19 project creating climate activities and workshops in the Pacific, we reflect on the underlying qualities of such activities to generate principles to guide design and facilitation of hands-on climate engagement. Through a fusing of theory, literature and practice, five principles are generated: personal and collective relevance, balancing risks/impacts with solutions, deliberative discussion and collaborative/participatory critical thinking, intrinsic motivation and positive emotional engagement, and opportunities for agency and action — with inclusive approaches providing foundation. We then describe applying the principles to refine content and create new activities.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

May 13, 2024 Practice Insight
Prioritising community over content: value shifts in science centres

by Jennifer DeWitt and Shaaron Leverment

Science centres are increasingly adopting co-development as a tool to engage diverse audiences with science. The case study featured in this practice insight draws on an evaluation of a programme that aimed to move U.K. science centres towards more inclusive practice. Interviews with staff from eight U.K. science centres and their community partner organisations reflected shifts in science centre practitioners' understanding and valuing of co-development approaches, and, especially, the centrality placed on relationships with communities. This case study can contribute to our understanding and help us reflect on how to align our practice with a commitment to equity.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

May 08, 2024 Book Review
Amplifying informal science learning: rethinking research, design, and engagement

by Graham J. Walker

An intriguing book on informal science learning in all its cultural and geographic diversity, deftly balancing theory, practice and the wondrous space in-between.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

Mar 25, 2024 Essay
Broadening adult engagement and education in science cafés: lessons from an STS — science communication boundary spanning experiment

by Karen A. Rader and CJ Gibbs

This essay describes and reflects on a collaboration between a university Science & Technology Studies (STS) educator and a community science café organizer. Our partnership was designed to address two challenges: how to encourage diversity and inclusion in science café audiences and how to create assessments for broader ‘science in society’ content delivered to adult café learners. We used focus groups to develop STS learning constructs and do community engagement needs assessments. We describe the resultant café series development and other outcomes of our cross-domain work in STS, science communication, and science education. We conclude with observations about the power of collaborative storytelling and make general recommendations for how practitioners and scholars can address the described challenges in ways that might ease future collaborations.

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2024 • Special Issue: Connecting science communication research and practice: challenges and ways forward

Mar 25, 2024 Practice Insight
Exhibition research and practice at CERN: challenges and learnings of science communication `in the making'

by Daria Dvorzhitskaia, Annabella Zamora, Emma Sanders, Patricia Verheyden and Jimmy Clerc

This practice insight paper presents a reflection on a four-year collaboration between science communication practitioners and researchers, using CERN's new education and outreach centre as a case study. The development of interactive exhibitions for this centre was informed by a variety of front-end and formative evaluation studies, from online surveys to exhibit prototype testing. As a multidisciplinary team of exhibition developers and social science researchers, we describe and discuss the challenges of — as well as learnings from — working together. Our experience will be relevant for everyone curious to discover `behind-the-scenes' work of research-informed exhibition development in a large scientific laboratory.

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2024 • Special Issue: Connecting science communication research and practice: challenges and ways forward

Dec 04, 2023 Article
Emotional responses from families visiting the zoo: a study at Parque das Aves in Foz do Iguaçu

by Graziele Scalfi, Luisa Massarani, Waneicy Gonçalves, Adriana Aparecida Andrade Chagas and Alessandra Bizerra

In this study, we aim to analyse human emotional responses towards animals, specifically birds, in the context of a visit to a zoo. The study was carried out with seven families in Parque das Aves. The visits were recorded using the point-of-view-camera method, and the data was analysed using qualitative software to identify emotion descriptors. The findings from our study reveal that the physical characteristics of birds, such as their patterns and colours, as well as their behaviours and abilities, triggered emotional responses that were associated with admiration for the species, concern for their well-being and awareness of conservation issues, enabling these families to construct meaning.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 22, 2023 Practice Insight
The value of public science events: insights from three years of communicating climate change research

by Ruth A. O'Connor, Tara Roberson, Clare de Castella and Zoe Leviston

Public science events are valued primarily as sites of individual learning. We explored the individual and collective value of university-based science events discussing climate change and motivations to attend. While events were most commonly valued as opportunities for learning, their social context created collective value associated with the physical gathering of like-minded people. Participants despairing at inaction on climate change were given agency through learning, participation, interpersonal discussions and normalising new behaviours. Post-event interpersonal discussions increase the reach of events beyond “the choir”. These discussions increase the diversity of messengers, creating opportunities for new framings and understandings of climate change.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 18, 2023 Practice Insight
How to save the world with zombies? — A scientainment approach to engage young people

by Petra Bättig-Frey, Mirjam West, Rahel Skelton and Verena Berger

When trying to sensitize adolescents for sustainability, innovative communication approaches are needed. In the outdoor escape “Zombie mission”, players follow a story and try to save the world by solving puzzles about sustainability topics with scientific information found in the university gardens. This study investigates to whom this scientainment approach appeals and whether it can impart knowledge and raise interest in science and the environment. A mixed methods approach was adopted using questionnaires and interviews. The results suggest that the game is a promising tool for communicating sustainability to adolescents, even those who may not have had prior interest in the environment or science. Participants enjoyed the activity and gained new knowledge as a result.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Oct 31, 2022 Article
Imagining the Sun: using comparative judgement to assess the impact of cross-curricular solar physics workshops

by Carol Davenport and Richard Morton

This paper describes a school intervention focused on visual art and solar physics using science capital and STEAM methodologies to develop STEM engagement activities. Data from 40 children (aged 8–11) in two primary schools in the North East of England are presented, using pre- and post-intervention surveys which contained free-response and likert-scale questions. The paper presents a novel, and transferable, method of evaluating children’s drawings using online comparative judgement marking software, particularly suited to those without a background in qualitative research. Using comparative judgement this paper shows that the intervention led to a moderate increase in girls’ knowledge of solar physics.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022