Practice insight

22/06/2020

The Mission Mosquito Information Sharing Program (ISP), a collaboration between the U.S. Department of State and Battelle Memorial Institute, is a public diplomacy effort to build and expand an international network of health communicators to increase engagement on mosquito-borne disease. Nineteen professionals from countries experiencing mosquito-borne diseases engaged in a two-week multi-directional information exchange across the United States in May 2018. Program alumni applied knowledge and tools from the ISP in follow-on projects and public outreach campaigns in their home countries. This paper summarizes the ISP and lessons learned, and highlights a science communication case study examining skills and understanding gained.

27/04/2020

We present a novel approach to communicating abstract concepts in cosmology and astrophysics in a more accessible and inclusive manner. We describe an exhibit aiming at creating an immersive, multisensory metaphorical experience of an otherwise imperceptible physical phenomenon — dark matter. Human-Computer Interaction experts and physicists co-created a multisensory journey through dark matter by exploiting the latest advances in haptic and olfactory technology. We present the concept design of a pilot and a second, improved event, both held at the London Science Museum, including the practical setup of the multisensory dark matter experience, the delivery of sensory stimulation and preliminary insights from users' feedback.

14/10/2019

Reflecting on the practice of storytelling, this practice insight explores how collaborations between scholars and practitioners can improve storytelling for science communication outcomes with publics. The case studies presented demonstrate the benefits of collaborative storytelling for inspiring publics, promoting understanding of science, and engaging publics more deliberatively in science. The projects show how collaboration between scholars and practitioners [in storytelling] can happen across a continuum of scholarship from evaluation and action research to more critical thinking perspectives. They also show how stories of possible futures and community efficacy can support greater engagement of publics in evidence-informed policymaking. Storytelling in collaborations between scholars and practitioners involves many activities: combining cultural and scientific understandings; making publics central to storytelling; equipping scientists to tell their own stories directly to publics; co-creating stories; and retelling collaborative success stories. Collaborative storytelling, as demonstrated in these case studies, may improve the efficacy of science communication practice as well as its scholarship.

09/09/2019

Live science events engage publics with science in a social context. This article articulates the aims and ethos of this growing sector within a research context. Semi-structured interviews (N=13) and focus groups (N=77) were conducted with event practitioners (both professional and volunteers) in the U.S.A. and U.K.. Inductive thematic analysis indicated that event producers aim to raise awareness of and professionalism in the sector. In particular, they seek to develop research into long-term impacts of events for both audiences and practitioners.

01/04/2019

The making and tinkering movement has become increasingly mainstream over the past decade, pioneered in part through the popularity of magazines like `Make', events such as Maker Faire and DIY websites including `Instructables'. Science centres and museums have been developing their own ideas, notably the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium. In this commentary piece, we reflect on why this movement has a strong appeal for the Life Science Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne and why we are in the process of developing a new making and tinkering space to help us enact our centre's vision to `Enrich lives through science'.

11/02/2019

Science Hunters is an outreach project which employs the computer game Minecraft to engage children with scientific learning and research through school visits, events, and extracurricular clubs. We principally target children who may experience barriers to accessing Higher Education, including low socioeconomic status, being the first in their family to attend university, and disability (including Special Educational Needs). The Minecraft platform encourages teamwork and makes science learning accessible and entertaining for children, irrespective of background. We employ a flexible approach that adapts to the needs of the users. More than 8000 children have been engaged in the first four years, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

12/11/2018

We explored the potential of science to facilitate social inclusion with teenagers who had interrupted their studies before the terms set for compulsory education. The project was carried out from 2014 to 2018 within SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies), a scientific and higher education institution in physics, mathematics and neurosciences, and was focused on the production of video games using Scratch. The outcomes are encouraging: through active engagement, the participants have succeeded in completing complex projects, taking responsibilities and interacting with people outside their usual entourage, within a background in which they have been valued and respected.

08/10/2018

In November 2016, within an Environmental studies course at the University of Venice, students carried out an experiment aimed at collecting scenarios of the Venetian coast's future starting from lessons learnt during the episode of storm surge 50 years ago (Aqua Granda ‘flood’). The students built scenarios able to anticipate the effect of sea level rise on coastal areas in Venice, based not only on scientific input but also on a methodology called “Futurescape city Tours” (FCT) involving inhabitants of the barrier islands of Lido and Pellestrina. This paper will explore three main questions: (i) Can participatory and experiential methodologies, such as FCT help students behave in an anticipatory and inclusive way in their future professional activities? (ii) Can we talk about post-normal science teaching? — i.e. one that acknowledges and works with science and other knowledges to address societal issues? (iii) Can such an approach challenge students thinking in relation to knowledge hierarchies?

03/10/2018

This paper is a reflective account of a public participation project the authors conducted in Japan in 2012–2015, as part of the central government's initiative for evidence-based policy-making. The reflection focusses on three key aspects of the project: setting a precedent of involving public participation in policy-making; embedding an official mechanism for public participation in policy-making process; and raising policy practitioners' awareness of public participation. We also discuss why we think engaging with policy practitioners, while problematic in various ways, is and will continue to be important in promoting institutionalised practice of public participation.

04/07/2018

Mediators engage in peer-to-peer conversations with young adults visiting the art and science exhibitions at Science Gallery Dublin. Previous evaluation and anecdotal reports show that the interdisciplinary nature of these conversations fosters self-confidence and interest in academic careers. We used the Most Significant Change methodology to evaluate if working as a Mediator has an impact beyond these domains. The results show that civic engagement, interest in social justice and emotional empathy are domains of significant personal change strongly associated with the development of self-confidence and interpersonal skills.

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