GeoLog

Outreach

GeoEd: Education vs. Communication

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Van for Pacific Science Center school visits. Credit: Arthur Hu (Wiarthurhu) distributed via Wikipedia.com

In this guest blog post, Sam Illingworth, discusses the perceived differences between science education and science communication in light of a recent publication on this very subject. If you are involved in either of these, we’d love to hear your opinions on how you think they differ (if at all) and how the approach to engaging the public might differ too! We look forward to your comments.

The Journal of Research in Science Teaching recently published this extremely interesting special issue on Bridging Science Education and Science Communication Research. The issue is worth reading in its entirety, but it is a discussion of the editorial and some of the issues that are raised in it that I would like to discuss in this GeoEd post.
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EGU 2015 Communicate Your Science Video Competition – Deadline Extended!

Earlier this year we launched the Communicate Your Science Video Competition, a great opportunity to share research in the Earth, planetary and space sciences with the general public. What’s more, there’s a free registration to the 2016 General Assembly up for grabs!

What’s it about? Young scientists pre-registered for the EGU General Assembly are invited to take part in the EGU’s Communicate Your Science Video Competition.
The aim: to produce a video up-to-three-minutes long to share your research with the general public.
The prize: a free registration to the General Assembly in 2016.

Your video can include scenes of you out in the field and explaining an outcrop, or at the lab bench showing how to work out water chemistry; entries can also cartoons, animations (including stop motion), or music videos – you name it! As long as you’re explaining concepts in the Earth, planetary and space sciences in a language suitable for a general audience, you can be as creative as you like.

Need some inspiration? Why not take a look at last year’s finalists:

How to enter

Feeling inspired? We’ve extended the deadline for submissions to 12 March. To take part, send your video to Laura Roberts (roberts@egu.eu), together with proof of online pre-registration to EGU 2015. Check the EGU website for more information about the competition and pre-register for the conference on the EGU 2015 website.

Last chance to enter the EGU Photo Contest!

From top left to bottom right, Erosion Spider by John Clemens, Icebergs at Night in the Antarctic by Eva Nowatzki, Star Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park by Martin Snow, MicROCKScopica – Symplectite in Granulite by Bernardo Cesare (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu).

Some finalists from the 2014 Photo Competition. From top left to bottom right: Erosion Spider by John Clemens, Icebergs at Night in the Antarctic by Eva Nowatzki, Star Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park by Martin Snow, MicROCKScopica – Symplectite in Granulite by Bernardo Cesare (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu).

If you are pre-registered for the 2015 General Assembly (Vienna, 12 -17 April), you can take part in our annual photo competition! Winners receive a free registration to next year’s General Assembly! But hurry, there are only a few days left to enter!

Every year we hold a photo competition and exhibit in association with our open access image repository, Imaggeo and our annual General Assembly. There is also a moving image competition, which features a short clip of continuous geoscience footage. Pre-registered conference participants can take part by submitting up to three original photos and/or one moving image on any broad theme related to the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

How to enter

You will need to register on Imaggeo to upload your image, which will also be included in the database. When you’ve uploaded it, you’ll have the option to edit the image details – here you can enter it into the EGU Photo Contest – just check the checkbox! The deadline for submissions is 1 March.

 

A brief history of science communication

Science communication has become a common focus of many aspects of academic research and teaching. Despite becoming more prevalent in recent years it has a long and deep rooted history, which goes hand in hand with scientific discovery. In this blog post, Sam Illingworth, gives a brief outline of the history of science communication.

Science Communication is a phrase that seems to permeate into many facets of our lives as scientists and educators, and indeed it has featured prominently in many of these posts. However, what is it and where did it come from?

Debating, Ancient Greece style (Photo Credit: Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Debating, Ancient Greece style (Photo Credit: Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

 The word ‘science’ itself derives from the Latin word ‘scientia’, meaning knowledge. So to communicate science is effectively to communicate knowledge, and at its most basic level science communication can be thought of as those in the know informing those that are not. In Ancient Greece this imparting of knowledge took place in public debates, where understanding and thought were deliberated by the masses. This democratisation of knowledge and inquiry ultimately led to the dawn of experimentation and to the advancement of philosophy and science.

This early wooden printing press could spit out 240 impressions per hour (Photo Credit: Jost Amman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

This early wooden printing press could spit out 240 impressions per hour (Photo Credit: Jost Amman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Sadly, in Western Europe the dark ages quickly put an end to this period of scientific enlightenment, with knowledge now transferred via the written word, and often hoarded by the privileged few. The masses were now either unable to process any knowledge because of their illiteracy, or else the vast expense associated with hand-copied books and manuscripts prevented them from learning anything of scientific merit. Thankfully, the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1456 eventually made the printed word more accessible, meaning that knowledge could now be much more easily spread. Yet, despite the ensuing scientific revolution that the printing press sparked, it wasn’t until much later on that scientists began to consider their responsibility to communicate knowledge to the general public.

The British Science Association (BSA) was set up in at the beginning of the nineteenth century, mainly to address the fact that science in the UK was in a somewhat laconic state. The first meeting was held in York on the 26 September 1831, where one of the aims of the society was declared to be: “to obtain a greater degree of national attention to the objects of science.” The association also inspired the formation of similar associations for the advancement of science in other countries, and have continued to have annual meetings ever since. Perhaps the best remembered of all these meetings was at Oxford in 1860, where the English biologist Thomas Huxley debated Darwinism with the then Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce. Huxley’s speech ended with him stating that he was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but that he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth; a reference to the oratory skill, yet perhaps clouded judgement, of his religious opponent.

Thomas Henry Huxley: Communicating for Science  (Photo Credit: Lock & Whitfield [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Thomas Henry Huxley: Communicating for Science (Photo Credit: Lock & Whitfield [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

In more recent times, European science communication can essentially be thought of as having gone through three stages of development. The first generation of science communication centred on a deficit approach, which aimed to fill in the gaps in the knowledge of the general public. The second-generation approach favoured a more two-way dialogue, in which the scientists engaged with the general public, and in which the general public began to have an influence on informing scientific practice and policy. Currently the third-generation approach aims to continue this two-way dialogue, but also transfers greater ownership to the general public, by encouraging them to define exactly what knowledge it is that they want to have communicated.

With the advent of citizen science, and crowdsourcing (more of which can be read about here), the general public are now in a position where they are not only choosing what they want to be informed about, but are taking an active role in the pursuit of this knowledge. As scientists, we have to ensure that it is not now us that are left behind.

By Sam Illingworth, Lecturer in Science Communication, Manchester Metropolitan University

 

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