How did I learn to communicate scientific information to the public? While I was working towards my bachelor’s degree in biology I started working as an interpreter at a city park in Indianapolis. The position was advertised through the university’s biology department and I decided it’d be a great way to get involved in the community. A lot of what I did was nature hikes with home-schooled youth, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, and a few family events. My knowledge about indigenous plants and animals grew every week (i.e. I learned a lot of content). While I simultaneously gained confidence talking to people, I received very little training on how to communicate. The experience, however, was a driving force for where I am now – environmental education. My communication knowledge and skills have developed in recent years from coursework and from having Shawn as a mentor.
How can we teach others to communicate science to the public? As Laia stated last week, we led a workshop about outreach. We focused on questioning, observing, and reflecting and the workshop seemed well received. During a small group discussion, some scholars and I talked about how to start a conversation with a stranger, engage kids with complicated science concepts, and how to talk to someone who is aggressive and says your research is wrong. These are all important and relevant topics, which we addressed using past experiences and how those experiences were handled. Hopefully the workshop is a stepping-stone for the scholars as they continue to think about and pursue outreach and communication opportunities. You can visit their blog to see what they had to say about communicating science at daVinci Days (a Corvallis event).
So, how did you learn to communicate science to the public?