The design, delivery and evaluation of JCOM Masterclasses has given us the opportunity to reflect on the audiences, training needs and training schemes available to people working at different levels and in different contexts to communicate STEM subjects to a diverse variety of people. Although not always widely available, short courses in the communication of science have been offered in a number of countries around the world over the past few years. We felt it is now time to open a discussion on the rationale, the methods and the objectives of such training programmes.
This paper reflects on the evaluation of and findings from a nationwide programme of physics engagement activities hosted by 10 science centres across the UK. We discuss our findings indicating the affordances of the programme with reference to the wider literature in order to draw out elements of the project that may be useful for other science learning and engagement initiatives. In particular, we discuss findings that relate to contemporary research and policy interests around the engagement of girls in science, the key ages at which young people’s views may best be influenced, the importance of explicating the nature of ‘real-world’ content and careers, and the value of collaborative partnerships.
This study addresses an open question about science bloggers' self-perceived roles as science communicators. Previous research has investigated the roles science journalists see themselves engaging in, but such research has failed to capture the experiences of science bloggers as a broad and diverse group that is yet often very different in their practices from professional journalists. In this study, a survey of over 600 science bloggers reveals that on the broadest level, science bloggers see themselves engaging most often as explainers of science and public intellectuals. Perceived communication role depends predominantly on occupation, science communication training, blog affiliation and gender.
A hybrid combination of art and science is used to communicate science in a primary school setting. The purpose of the work is to enhance student awareness of the science behind understanding the global climate system with a focus on the cryosphere. An experiment in communicating science is conducted by taking the collaborative experiences of a professional artist and scientist, which are then combined and projected onto an ostensibly everyday primary school classroom project. The tangible end result is a stand-alone contemporary art work that then is the focal point of community-based promotion of the science and creativity involved. A range of qualitative evaluation elements suggest that the approach does improve student engagement with the scientific approach and reduces the student's uncertainty about ``what science is''.
Teaching mathematics in informal settings is a relatively new phenomenon, but it has gained more attention due to the recent changes in the society. The aim of the present quantitative study was to compare the learning outcomes of Latvian and Swedish 12-year-olds when they visited a science centre mathematics-art exhibition originally designed in Estonia. The results showed that in general, prior knowledge of the exhibition contents was the strongest predictor of post-test results in both countries but that mathematical thinking skills and self-concept had a small added value in explaining the post-test results. The results of the study give some of the first pieces of evidence of the effectiveness of out-of-school mathematics teaching in a science exhibition context, providing a good basis for further studies.
Open Science may become the next scientific revolution, but still lingers in a pre-paradigmatic phase, characterised by the lack of established definitions and domains. Certainly, Open Science requires a new vision of the way to produce and share scientific knowledge, as well as new skills. Therefore, education plays a crucial role in supporting this cultural change along the path of science. This is the basic principle inspiring the collection of essays published in this issue of JCOM, which deals with many subjects ranging from open access to the public engagement in scientific research, from open data to the social function of preprint servers for the physicians' community. These are issues that go along with the targets of the FOSTER project (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) funded by the European Union, which has provided interesting food for thought in order to write this commentary.
The ever-changing nature of academic science communication discourse can make it challenging for those not intimately associated with the field ― scientists and science-communication practitioners or new-comers to the field such as graduate students ― to keep up with the research. This collection of articles provides a comprehensive overview of the subject and serves as a thorough reference book for students and practitioners of science communication.