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Aug 21, 2023 Essay
Looking back to launch forward: a self-reflexive approach to decolonising science education and communication in Africa

by Temilade Sesan and Ayodele Ibiyemi

The imbalance in the global scientific landscape resulting from the enduring legacy of colonialism in the south and the hegemony of scientific paradigms originating in the north is immense. Our paper makes a case for employing traditional knowledge systems and paradigms as tools for redressing this imbalance in African societies. To achieve this goal, the paper argues, scholars and science communicators must actively pursue a radical, “power-literate” agenda of scientific decolonisation on the continent. Central to this mission is the need for scholars to be equipped with a keen sense of the past — including an understanding of what worked for knowledge production and perpetuation in pre-colonial African societies — without which science education and communication in those societies will remain untethered from the realities of the present and their visions for the future. Concurrently, attention must be given to nurturing home-grown paradigms and platforms for research in higher education that are rigorous yet unencumbered by the age-long tendency to refract African experiences through northern lenses.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jul 17, 2023 Article
Science by means of memes? Meanings of Covid-19 in Brazil based on Instagram posts

by Wilmo Ernesto Francisco Junior, Tereza Cristina Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, Biânca Luiz dos Santos Costa and Rafaella Lima Gomes

This study aimed at analyzing Brazilian memes posted on Instagram about Covid-19, in which scientific concepts were intertwined with the message. The research was based on virtual ethnography and the analysis considered the multimodal structure of memes following principles of the Grammar of Visual Design. Only twelve memes out of a universe of 83 identified (14.5%) presented knowledge about science interdependently with meanings that could be produced. One of the core aspects is the complexity of both representations and scientific concepts in memes about Covid-19. Scientific aspects, humor and irony were associated with social and political criticism through different multimodal interactions.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jun 20, 2023 Article
Living labs contributions to smart cities from a quadruple-helix perspective

by Daniel Esashika, Gilmar Masiero and Yohann Mauger

This paper explores living labs' contributions to smart cities from a quadruple-helix perspective. The selected exploratory case studies (Living Lab Florianópolis, Living Lab of the Itaipu Technological Park and Porto Digital) depict an institutional context characterized by a low interaction between the quadruple-helix components. The data were obtained through document analysis and interviews with living lab organizers and participants. The results suggest living labs can contribute by a) selecting the most promising projects to promote, b) connecting several agents and sharing informational through collaborative practices and events, c) facilitating mediation between participants in living labs and government agencies, universities and local companies to conduct tests, and d) inserting the fourth helix as a tester but not as a co-creator. These findings explain the participation of quadruple-helix components in the stages of project selection, development, and testing developing living labs. Finally, this article contradicts the predominant notion that living labs remain based on user-oriented innovation processes, purporting a producer-oriented trajectory.

Volume 22 • Issue 03 • 2023 • Special Issue: Living labs under construction: paradigms, practices, and perspectives of public science communication and participatory science

Apr 03, 2023 Article
Socioscientific issues in science exhibitions: examining contributions of the informal science education sector

by Ana Maria Navas Iannini

This paper examines how a particular subset of informal science education settings — science exhibitions — embraces contemporary socioscientific issues (SSI) and fosters public engagement with them. A qualitative cross-case analysis of two SSI exhibitions about teen pregnancy (Brazil) and sustainability (Canada) was conducted. It revealed complex issues around operational funding, and institutional tensions related to the nature, balance, and relevance of the topics displayed. The analysis unravelled opportunities for SSI exhibits to engage with contextualized and situated knowledge; articulate the deficit model with other models of science communication; and consider visitors as agents of change.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Sep 26, 2022 Book Review
A review of ‘Science Communication Practice in China’

by Fabien Medvecky

‘Science Communication Practice in China’ is a book that does two things. One very intentional, one less so. Intentionally, it presents the state of science communication and popularisation in China with a strong focus on the historical and policy context this is embedded in. Less (or possibly un-)intentionally, it makes explicit both its assumptions about what science communication should aim for and how it should go about its business, as well as forcing the reader to acknowledge their own assumptions of the role and place of science communication.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Sep 19, 2022 Practice Insight
The culture of science communication in rural and regional Australia: the role of awe and wonder

by Saba Sinai, Lisa Caffery and Amy Cosby

Experiences of awe and wonder are vital to science and innovation. In this practice insight we explore how these emotions shape the culture of science communication. In doing so, we examine how exclusively nature- and place-based experiences for awe and wonder are often features of resource-limited settings. We then describe strategies for awe- and wonder-centred science communication beyond reliance on nature or the power of place by detailing a successful hybrid resourcing model in a rural Australian science centre. We finish by describing the role of science communicators in engaging potential collaborators to enable science communication in resource-limited settings.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Jun 14, 2021 Article
Step by step towards citizen science — deconstructing youth participation in BioBlitzes

by Julia Lorke, Heidi L. Ballard, Annie E. Miller, Rebecca D. Swanson, Sasha Pratt-Taweh, Jessie N. Jennewein, Lila Higgins, Rebecca F. Johnson, Alison N. Young, Maryam Ghadiri Khanaposhtani and Lucy D. Robinson

BioBlitzes, typically one-day citizen science (CS) events, provide opportunities for the public to participate in data collection for research and conservation, potentially promoting deeper engagement with science. We observed 81 youth at 15 BioBlitzes in the U.S. and U.K., identifying five steps participants use to create a biological record (Exploring, Observing, Identifying, Documenting and Recording). We found 67 youth engaged in at least one of the steps, but seldom in all, with rare participation in Recording which is crucial for contributing data to CS. These findings suggest BioBlitzes should reduce barriers to Recording for youth to increase engagement with science.

Volume 20 • Issue 04 • 2021

Mar 08, 2021 Article
Hocus Pocus: using comics to promote skepticism about the paranormal

by Richard Wiseman, Jordan Collver, Rik Worth and Caroline Watt

This study investigated the potential for comics to promote skepticism about the paranormal. Participants rated their interest in comics, read a skeptical account of alleged paranormal phenomena in one of three mediums (text, comic, and comic containing an interactive magic trick), and then rated their engagement, skepticism and recall. The text was rated as more interesting and entertaining than the comics, and participants' prior interest in comics positively correlated with engagement and shift in skepticism. This suggests that for certain cohorts, comics may be an effective way to promote engagement and attitude change. The implications for future work are considered.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Dec 09, 2020 Article
A space to study: expectations and aspirations toward science among a low-participation cohort

by Cherry Canovan and Robert Walsh

Widening participation in science is a long-held ambition of governments in the U.K. and elsewhere; however numbers of STEM entrants to university from low-socioeconomic status groups remain persistently low. The authors are conducting a long-term school-based space science intervention with a group of pupils from a very-low-participation area, and studied the science attitudes of the participants at the beginning of the programme. Key findings were that young people from the very-low-SES study cohort were just as interested in science study and science jobs as their peers nationally, and had a pre-existing interest in space science. Some participants, particularly boys, demonstrated a ‘concealed science identity’, in that they perceived themselves as a ‘science person’ but thought that other people did not. Boys tended to score higher on generalised ‘science identity’ measures, but the gender difference disappeared on more ‘realist’ measures. In addition, although participants agreed that it was useful to study science, they had little concrete idea as to why. These findings shed light on how science communicators can best address low-SES groups of young people with the aim of increasing their participation in science education and careers. We conclude that interventions with this group that focus on ‘aspiration raising’ are unlikely to be successful, and instead suggest that activities focus on how young people can see science as a realistic path for their future. It would be helpful for in-school programmes to allow young people an outlet to express their science identity, and to give information about the kinds of jobs that studying science may lead to. Further research into whether the gender split on idealist/realist measures of science identity persists over time would be of use.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
The ambivalent role of environmental NGOs in climate communication

by Simone Rödder

Environmental NGOs play a vital role in public climate communication through their awareness-raising activities and educational campaigns. This commentary points to a potentially problematic implication of their role as climate science advocates which includes the general tendency to attribute environmental changes and extreme weather events to climate change. These climate-centric framings, however, may not resonate with the lived experiences and belief systems of local communities, not even in geographically vulnerable areas. I draw on local case studies to show that communities often express a sense of “shared responsibility” between global carbon dioxide emissions and ecologically deleterious local practices such as shrimp farming (in Bangladesh) and cutting trees (in the Philippines). As a consequence, the studies show mismatches between activists' attributions of local circumstances and events, and local communities' ways of knowing their local circumstances.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020