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11 March 2015

Fukushima Daiichi disaster in the news is a teachable moment for scientists

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake occurred offshore of Japan and kicked off a tsunami. At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the natural disasters knocked out backup power systems used to cool reactors. Consequently, three reactors underwent fuel melting, hydrogen explosions, and radioactivereleases. Although it happened four years ago, the disaster, and possible consequences, still generates questions from reporters, scientists, nuclear plant operators and the public, says Ken Buessler, a marine radiochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He says he uses the disaster’s news focus to try to educate the general public about the science of radiation, including how at-risk people really are.

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2 March 2015

You can hide under your desk … as long as you still answer the phone

“Well, if you need me I’ll be hiding under my desk,” I told my adviser on Friday afternoon. I’d just finished a 20-minute phone call with PRI (Public Radio International)’s The World.

Responding to press inquiries is hard, and a morning of staring intently though the clutter on my desk wracking my brain for simple, concise answers to unexpected questions had left me feeling ragged. It had been just over 24 hours since the University of Arizona’s public information office had co-issued a press release with AGU about my recent paper on Icelandic glacial rebound, which was published in Geophysical Research Letters, and I’d spent all day Thursday and all of Friday morning answering emails and phone calls from reporters.

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17 February 2015

Science communication as a “responsibility”

“I am a scientist, first and foremost, but I feel it is my responsibility to answer questions from the public when I am asked,” Diffenbaugh said during a panel on communications Feb. 12 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Jose, California.

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13 February 2015

Video in Education and Outreach

Video is an excellent tool for conveying emotion and generating excitement. It’s got beautiful moving images, ambient sound, and music (if you dare). It’s got human connection if you talk with people on camera or see them active on screen. It’s the most visceral way to capture an audience and tell a story. It’s not the best at communicating the details of a story however. Text, well written, still does a good job at that. But if your audience is prepped and excited about a topic or in my current case, a research expedition (because they watched an interesting or compelling video), they may be more inclined to sit down and read more about it.

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8 December 2014

Geoscientist and singer-songwriter shares her creative side at AGU’s Open Mic Night – and you can, too

Science is about discovering universal truths. Music, they say, is a universal language. So what better way to communicate science than through music?

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11 November 2014

Scientists Engage With the Public During Lava Flow Threat

On 27 June, lava from Kīlauea, an active volcano on the island of Hawai`i, began flowing to the northeast, threatening the residents in Pāhoa. Eos recently spoke with Michael Poland, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) and a member of the Eos Editorial Advisory Board, to discuss how he and his colleagues communicated this threat to the public.

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3 November 2014

Doodling in Science Class: Using Stick Figure Animations to Explain Complex Science at Stanford University (Videos)

Emma Hutchinson discusses how climate change might impact the strongest wind system on Earth, and what that means for ocean circulation patterns in this Stanford University video. Traer partnered with Hutchinson to animate her story with white board drawings in the hopes of making it easier for the public to understand her complex research. Video courtesy of Stanford School of Earth Sciences. By Miles Traer From my time as an …

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16 October 2014

And now for the fun part: choosing your outreach activities!

The wonderful thing about science communication and outreach is that there are an almost infinite number of ways to share your science. We’ve made a quick list of some of the kinds of activities you can be involved in to share your science.

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8 August 2014

Worried about Speaking in Public? Try Toastmasters. Really.

That’s right, Toastmasters, the outfit with the retro name that seems to promise insurance salesmen who shake your hand too hard, like that guy in the movie Groundhog Day who keeps pestering Bill Murray. “It’s Ned! NED RYERSON!”

Yes, I was dubious, too.

But then la few weeks ago I actually went to a meeting…

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28 July 2014

Want to Really Communicate Your Science to the Public? Go on a Journey and They’ll Follow

Consider these three related stories. Little Red Riding Hood sets off through the forest to Grandmother’s house. Mad Captain Ahab sails the Pacific in search of Moby Dick. You hit the road for a season of field work. Yes, Red Riding Hood, Ahab, you. All related.

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24 July 2014

Calling all scientists: Artify your Abstracts!

Abstracts are the quintessential means of getting the gist of your research out there to other scientists. But what if you want to reach a broader audience? What if you want to give your abstract that extra oomph that will combine its scientific rigor with some artistic creativity? Why, in that case you artify your abstract!

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2 July 2014

Students: Submit Your Design or Video to the 2014 AGU Student T-Shirt Design and Video Contests

Do you think you have what it takes to create the next viral video or geo-style trend? Prove it by taking part in the 2014 Student T-shirt Design and Student Video contests. The winner of each contest will receive free registration to the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting. Plus, T-Shirts with the winning design will be sold at the AGU Fall Meeting, with proceeds going to the Student Travel Grant Fund. More about each contest is below.

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17 June 2014

Science Communication in the Post-expert Digital Age

In the digital age, anyone can comment, tweet, or blog. This means that expert voices are often diluted in the online conversation. In a Forum in the 17 June issue of Eos, Amy Luers, director for climate change at the Skoll Global Threats Fund and David Kroodsma, research analyst at the Skoll Global Threats Fund, describe the challenges for scientists trying to communicate in this “post-expert” age.

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11 June 2014

Send us a postcard from the field

It’s exciting and eye-opening to see where people do fieldwork and what questions they’re asking–it introducesothers to the fun, majesty, grubbiness, hardship, and wonder of studying science. That’s why we’d like you to share your work, and your field locations, with us by submitting a Postcard from the Field to AGU’s new Tumblr site.

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9 June 2014

A maker of the first COSMOS reflects on its successor

As the final episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s series airs tonight on the National Geographic Channel, a Senior Producer and Director of the original COSMOS series, Geoff Haines-Stiles, shares his thoughts and reactions about the remake and how it compares to the original. Haines-Stiles also shares a film tribute he edited for the 1987 memorial service for Carl Sagan, creator and star of the original COSMOS.

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10 April 2014

Mapping fantasy: The story behind the Game of Thrones geologic maps

Science fiction can be a really cool gateway for sharing science fact. Earth science is imaginative, and can draw on pop culture, like the HBO show Game of Thrones. My graduate school friend and Generation Anthropocene co-producer, Miles Traer, recently brought science fact and science fiction together over this show in a hilariously awesome and super fun project.

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1 April 2014

Scientists must use more jargon for public to appreciate science, study shows

Most of the public is turned off by scientists’ overly accessible and personalized descriptions of their work, new research shows.

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17 March 2014

St. Patrick’s Science Limericks

Enjoy the greatest tradition of the holiday: science-themed limericks!

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11 March 2014

Calling for Science-Themed Limericks: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Style!

The best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to write a science-themed limerick–and then get it featured on The Plainspoken Scientist!

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24 February 2014

Illustrated IPCC Haiku?

“I didn’t deliberately set out to distill the Summary for Policymakers of the latest IPCC report into illustrated haiku. But, one weekend when I was too sick to leave the house, I found myself inspired by its ‘Headline Statements’…”

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