I knew at a very young age that I wanted to pursue science. I liked it, I was good at it, I was always asking questions anyway -- it just made sense. Not everyone is as fortunate as me, finding their passion at the age of 9. However, some are, but they know 100% that they do NOT want to do science. More power to you, we need passionate people in all fields, regardless of what it is! But for everyone in between -- for those who like science but aren't "good" at it, for those who "couldn't compete" in classroom, for those who enjoy the findings of science but have no desire to sit in a lab all day -- there is a fabulous and simple way for you to get involved.
I present to you: CITIZEN SCIENCE! We are in the era of enormous data sets. Technology has surpassed the human ability to keep up with it all, yet human analysis will always be superior to a machine (in my humble opinion). Scientists found the answer -- get more people! But getting more specialists is a difficult and expensive endeavor, so scientists have turned to the general public. Non-experts can sift through the data as a first pass and flag anything interesting. The flags are reported to specialists, who then make that particular data a priority for analysis. This is a zero-pressure and fun way to get involved. If you're wrong, no biggie. If you're right, you just helped with a scientific discovery! And you can do this all from the comfort of your own home. No lab coats, no writing code, no wandering the landscape looking for a specimen, no staying up all night gathering data. Just you, your computer, and your sweatpants.
Stay tuned for more ways for you to get involved with a citizen science project!
"The Universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space."
-- Carl Sagan
Scientist need to get back to interacting and communicating at the local level with informative and positive messaging and reattaching themselves as local figures. Connecting to the community increases the science networks that stimulate speculative conversations on science removing the obstacle of science does not influence me. A large issue on this disconnect appears to be product of poor fundamental education and not physically being able to see or touch some of the more abstract mechanisms in the world around us. This year one of the most witnessed events may have been the kick-start science communication needed.
The Great American Eclipse was one of the greatest results of science communication that I can ever recall. From seeing science teachers on the local news broadcasts using different size balls to explain the physics of the eclipse. How such a small object as the moon can block all of the light from the sun at 400 times the size. This was also great to see the interaction with the community submitting questions weeks before asking astronomy, physics, and basic science questions. This momentum of talking science with locals and non-scientist may be able to push the conversation to other sciences and other important findings.
Eclipse progression (Photo Created by Bryan Carnathan developed for NASA)
Last week the House Science Committee met to discuss, the value, impact, and preliminary results from the Great American Solar Eclipse in August. The testimony from scientist and science educators was a great opportunity for science communication. However, if you did not hear about the meeting or any of the testimony from scientist or science educators you are not alone. Little to no advertising was put forward to share the preliminary results of learning how the sun functions nor increasing STEM interest for thousands of elementary students. This opportunity should push scientist to think like marketing specialist on selling the science product to audiences. Bringing a brand to the intellectual ideas and style of science is an essential step for representing ones work on a global scale.
As some political positions attempt to discredit some scientific predictions, much of the underlying science remains credible without much resistance. Introducing novel approaches to science communication is going to result in some backlash as people see threats to current trends and lifestyles. Albeit, many of the people discrediting anthropogenic climate change are acting on the same data to protect their homes from flooding and fire. As statisticians predict the financial losses under the threat of increased natural disasters, companies will not offer insurance without mitigation. Climate scientists feel the threats from strongly opposing viewpoints as a danger to their life’s work. Thus, have been working on reducing misinterpretation of their data by releasing research synthesis papers for the public. This is the first step to engage the public, but abstract concepts and need to be explained at local community level producing memories and not factoids.
Good evening, and welcome back to the University of Wyoming's science communication blog! Melanie Torres here, and I'm introducing two more of our aspiring science communicators via the 60-second or so interview assignment we completed last week.
While Michelle Mason and Cody Porter are from two different backgrounds, they both are doing some pretty fantastic research for their PhDs here at the University of Wyoming! Michelle's research focuses on supermassive black holes, whereas Cody is studying speciation in birds. Have a listen and enjoy!
Introduction recorded and produced by Heather Speckman.
Introduction recorded and produced by Melanie Torres.
A blog and website by graduate students from science disciplines and departments throughout the University of Wyoming. We hope you connect with our science communication and engagement efforts. Please let us know what you think of the site!