Informal learning

26/04/2022

In 2020, National Science Week events shifted online in response to Australian COVID-19 restrictions. Our research captures this rapid pivot from in-person to online science events, exploring experiences through audience and presenter questionnaires, and follow-up interviews. We examine characteristics of audiences for online science events, benefits and barriers of these events, and opportunities for online engagement. Key benefits were ease of attendance, new experiences enabled online, and greater control and flexibility. Lack of social interaction, technology issues, and audience reliability were identified as barriers. Our research suggests online events operate in a different sphere to in-person events and informs the delivery of engaging online experiences.

28/03/2022

Participatory media has the ability to engage people in stories of science in ways that are personal, profound and culturally relevant. This essay launches from my experience as a scientist-turned-filmmaker and my establishment of the Ocean Media Institute, a global media collective that serves as a participatory platform for the communication of ocean science. Through collaboration and innovation, we as science storytellers have the ability to shape narratives that are factual, evidence-based and embrace greater inclusivity. Only when we invite diverse perspectives that draw from all ways of knowing, will we be able to provoke deeper dialogue and ignite change.

28/03/2022

This article will take you through the evolution of our approach in presenting and communicating science. For twenty years ‘1, 2, 3, sciences’ has run participatory live workshops for adults. A special tool, the Group Provisory Conclusion or GPC, involving each participant, contributes to the success. Our expectation was to rekindle the public’s interest through participatory methods, supported by the emergence of collective intelligence. It describes our actions to help people reduce their apprehension towards science.

07/02/2022

This paper focuses on developing and assessing a non-obtrusive and transformative method, based on virtual reality, to evaluate science communication projects in science centres. The method was tested using deep-sea cutting-edge scientific content. We applied a mixed design, with 72 adult participants randomly assigned to experimental conditions (with/without exhibition exposure). Results showed that the exhibition promoted a better understanding of science. The non-obtrusive measures on awareness and engagement were positively related with questions posed via questionnaire and interview. The study adds theoretical and empirical support to the design and implementation of non-obtrusive and transformative evaluation experiences in science exhibitions in science centres and museums.

31/01/2022

The Story Collider applies the principles of narrative transportation to produce events that use first-person, personal stories about science to activate audience emotion, empathy, and identities. This study sought to systematically explore underlying patterns in the subjective experience of these live shows. This study combined a research framework from the performing arts with Q methodology, a method designed to capture and quantify subjectivity of personal meaning. This revealed four profiles, each representing a distinct way that one can internalize the value of science storytelling. Results highlight an opportunity within programs that operate at the nexus of science communication and the arts.

24/01/2022

Genetics literacy is crucial for making informed decisions. However, perceived complexity, educational gaps, and misleading media narratives make reaching diverse populations difficult. Interventions to improve genetics literacy beyond K—12 classrooms should center on building science trust and self-efficacy. We used a mixed methods approach to survey 12 museums with genetics content and found 3 framing devices, “Genetics is Fun,” “Genetics is Relevant,” and “Genetics is Discovery.” While each framing strategy leads to high engagement with genetics topics, these approaches differed in ways that affect ability to learn and how genetics is perceived. Exhibit creators should consider design ramifications when creating a genetics exhibit that builds genetic literacy.

09/06/2021

As several recent National Academies of Sciences reports have highlighted, greater science communication research is needed on 1) communicating chemistry, and 2) building research-practice partnerships to advance communication across science issues. Here we report our insights in both areas, gathered from a multi-year collaboration to advance our understanding of how to communicate about chemistry with the public. Researchers and practitioners from science museums across the U.S. partnered with academic social scientists in science communication to develop and conduct multi-strand data collections on chemistry communication and informal education. Our focus was on increasing interest in, the perceived relevance of, and self-efficacy concerning chemistry through hands-on activities and connecting chemistry to broader themes concerning everyday life and societal impacts. We outline challenges and benefits of the project that future collaborations can gain from and illustrate how our strands of work complemented each other to create a more complete picture of public perceptions of chemistry.

08/03/2021

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.

14/12/2020

Stories are fundamental to human history, culture and development. Immersive theatre has created a landscape where participants have agency within stories, and within this landscape the concept of narrative transportation provides a framework where change within stories creates change in real life. “Space Plague” is a co-designed, fully immersive theatrical experience for young people and families about a fictional pandemic. It was developed using community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) employing a novel model for engaging underserved and under-represented audiences, “SCENE”. Results confirmed that indications of narrative transportation effects were achieved, demonstrating enhanced learning and understanding alongside changing attitudes and indicated positive change when negotiating the COVID-19 crisis.

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.

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