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18 February 2014

Really Reaching the Public, Face-to-Face

Peter Foukal, second from right, stands next to the East Point Solar Observatory (EPSO) during its inauguration in 1995. Foukal built the Nahant, Mass., observatory to share the wonder of astronomy with the public. From left to right are Mrs. Stephens, Nahant Elementary School science teacher; Dr. J. Ayres, Director of the Northeastern Univ. Marine Sciences Laboratory, Nahant; Peter Foukal; and , R. Carter, Chair of the Nahant School Board. Photo by Elisabeth Foukal.

This past summer I was able to provide a young couple with their first view of Saturn through a telescope, and afterward they told me what a profound experience this look into space had been for them. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen such an emotional response since I opened the East Point Solar Observatory, a small public observatory in Nahant, Mass., in 1995. But listening to them reminded me how lucky we scientists are to pursue a career that brings out such warm feelings in our neighbors. It also made me wonder whether the effectiveness of our national approach to public outreach might be increased by more face-to-face contact between scientists and the public.

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1 October 2013

Let’s Talk Science

Jean-Robert Altidor, from the Bureau des Mines et de l'Energie in Haiti, presents an outreach talk to school girls in Port-au-Prince.  Besides installing seismometers with Altidor and other Haitian partners after the 2010 earthquake, guest blogger Susan Hough and USGS colleagues provided training to help develop outreach and education programs. Photo by Susan Hough.

As Earth Science week approaches, the attentions of the community turn to education and outreach. Within the broad E&O umbrella, effective communication with K-12 students remains a key priority. A small number of children will grow up to be scientists; all children will grow up to be stake-holders in society. It should be an easy job: even very young children are natural scientists, fascinated by experiments like, how does a liquid behave when I jump in this puddle? Or, how does my pacifier make its way to the floor and back to me if I throw it? (Do the laws of physics change after the 5th time?)

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20 April 2012

Overcoming misunderstandings and misleading data in climate science

Assistant Professor of Geology Callan Bentley spoke on reducing confusion and overcoming  misunderstandings about climate change among the general public at a symposium held 16 April. Credit: Eric Villard)

People can misunderstand the science behind climate change, which in turn can lead to skepticism, said scientists and communicators at the fourth annual Climate Change Symposium, held 16 April at Northern Virginia Community College. They shared ideas about how to correct the often-misconstrued data about Earth’s changing climate.

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15 March 2012

Three minutes to be like Sagan: Competition seeks short bits on science

Julia DeMarines, of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, uses a Frisbee as a model of the Milky Way to show where planets supporting life might be expected to form within a galaxy. Photo by Mary Catherine Adams, AGU.

Prove you’re the next Carl Sagan in three minutes or less. Now, go! That’s what young scientists, engineers and aspiring PhDs in the United States are being called to do – move an audience the way Sagan could, but in three minutes or less. Friday morning, a group of young speakers gathered at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., to give it a try.

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29 November 2011

From Wanna-Be Reporter to Voice of America Journalist

Dione Rossiter, 2011 AGU Mass Media Fellow, spent her summer in the Voice of America newsroom in Washington, D. C.

After four busy summers studiously measuring the minute details of clouds, I spent my last summer as a graduate student in a newsroom, far away from the cockpit of a cloud-probing airplane. It was not just any newsroom but Voice of America’s politically charged newsroom in Washington, D. C. Almost overnight, this ­California-​­for-​­lifer was living and working amid the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. As a half researcher–half …

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14 April 2011

A crash course in science education and outreach

A crash course in science education and outreach

I confess that when I started my current position, I had no idea what I was doing. Well, not much. I had some experience doing outreach, took two relevant courses in graduate school, and worked at the wonderful Museum of the Earth for two years after college. But still, I felt very much fish-outa-water, despite all my enthusiasm. What were the most useful projects for me to be engaged in? Who was my audience and what was the best way to reach them? How could I tell if anything I was doing was actually working?

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28 February 2011

Don’t go it alone: Making outreach work

A group of second-graders visit Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to learn about how computers enable science research. (Photo courtesy of LBNL)

Broader impacts programs are an increasingly important factor in winning hyper-competitive grants. But how can scientists gain the skills they need to succeed in outreach while they are busy learning what’s necessary to advance in their field? One possible answer: team up with the pros.

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11 February 2011

From microfossils to second-graders: Confessions of a researcher-turned-educator

Phoebe Cohen kneeling on some stromatolites in Australia, working on a 'virtual field trip' on the evolution of complex life. (Photo courtesy of Phoebe Cohen)

I am a paleontologist by training, and an informal science educator by choice. I’m currently in a post-doc position that lets me do both, but I dedicate three quarters of my time to the educator role, an anomaly in the world of research science. Why, you might ask, would I leave a life of deciphering the early evolution of complex life for a life of “outreach” – running workshops, talking to second-graders, and sitting in on innumerable conference calls?

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19 July 2010

Why I Blog: Ed Adams (Geology Happens)

Ed Adams

Guest Post by Ed Adams, geology educator Several years ago, I started teaching summer field classes for teachers in need of additional science credits for their endorsements. To facilitate the exchange of information and to provide a repository of data links for my students, I created a series of web pages. This enabled my students, some of whom I only saw for a week, to access the data we used …

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19 April 2010

A message to science educators and students about global climate change

A message to science educators and students about global climate change

Guest post by John C. Ayers, Professor at Vanderbilt University. A recent poll of earth scientists found that 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that data clearly demonstrate the earth is warming and that human activity is contributing to rising temperatures (EOS v. 90 Number 3, p. 22 — those who don’t have access to Eos, see this CNN story). In contrast, the same poll found that only …

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