Public engagement with science and technology

21/01/2016

Since 2009 Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public & Science, VA) coordinates an annual mass experiment as part of ForskarFredag — the Swedish events on the European Researchers' Night. Through the experiments, thousands of Swedish students from preschool to upper secondary school have contributed to the development of scientific knowledge on, for example, the acoustic environment in classrooms, children's and adolescents' perception of hazardous environments and the development of autumn leaves in deciduous trees. The aim is to stimulate scientific literacy and an interest in science while generating scientific output. The essay discusses how the mass experiments can contribute to encouraging scientific citizenship.

15/12/2015

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''.

29/09/2015

Whilst welcoming Jensen’s response to our original paper, we suggest that our main argument may have been missed. We agree that there are many methods for conducting impact assessments in informal settings. However, the capacity to use such tools is beyond the scope of many practitioners with limited budgets, time, and appropriate expertise to interpret findings.
More particularly, we reiterate the importance of challenging the prevailing policy discourse in which longitudinal impact studies are regarded as the ‘gold standard’, and instead call for a new discourse that acknowledges what is feasible and useful in informal sector evaluation practice.

24/07/2015

Communication about technology has long been neglected within the field of science and technology communication. This visual exploratory study focuses on how users can communicate with and about technology in public places through warning signs posted on technological devices.
Three broad categories of messages have been identified: bad design, malfunctioning and disciplining users. By analyzing examples within each category, we suggest that studying these communicative situations can be a key to understanding how users are engaged in continuous, elaborate and sometimes even conflicting framing of technological devices (e.g. with regard to their purpose, appropriate uses, shifting boundaries between functioning/malfunctioning); how such framing, in turn, can be used to readjust/realign social behavior and organizational routines.

26/05/2015

A survey was conducted during the University of Manchester’s 2014 ‘Science Extravaganza’, which saw the participation of over 900 Key Stage 3 (ages 11–14) students in a range of interactive demonstrations, all run by active University researchers. The findings of this study suggest that a new approach is necessary in order to use these large science events to actively engage with school students about the career opportunities afforded by science subjects. Recommendations for such an approach are suggested, including the better briefing of researchers, and the invitation of scientists from outside academia to attend and interact with the school students.

28/04/2015

This paper discusses the value and place of evaluation amidst increasing demands for impact. We note that most informal learning institutions do not have the funds, staff or expertise to conduct impact assessments requiring, as they do, the implementation of rigorous research methodologies. However, many museums and science centres do have the experience and capacity to design and conduct site-specific evaluation protocols that result in valuable and useful insights to inform ongoing and future practice. To illustrate our argument, we discuss the evaluation findings from a museum-led teacher professional development programme, Talk Science.

22/09/2014

This paper presents results from three studies on science blogging, the use of blogs for science communication. A survey addresses the views and motives of science bloggers, a first content analysis examines material published in science blogging platforms, while a second content analysis looks at reader responses to controversial issues covered in science blogs. Bloggers determine to a considerable degree which communicative function their blog can realize and how accessible it will be to non-experts Frequently readers are interested in adding their views to a post, a form of involvement which is in turn welcomed by the majority of bloggers.

13/03/2014

The demand for evaluation of science communication practices and the number and variety of such evaluations are all growing. But it is not clear what evaluation tells us - or even what it can tell us about the overall impacts of the now-global spread of science communication initiatives. On the other hand, well-designed evaluation of particular activities can support innovative and improved practices.

13/03/2014

An evaluation toolkit developed as part of the EU-funded PLACES project was applied in 26 case studies across Europe. Results show, among other things, the contribution of science communication initiatives to public curiosity, professional networking and perception of cities where these initiatives are stronger.

13/03/2014

Evaluations of science communication activities before, during and after their implementation can provide findings that are useful in planning further activities. As some selected examples show, designing such evaluation is complex: they may involve assessment at various points, a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, and show that impacts differ when seen from different perspectives.

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