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Ideas & Resources

On these pages, you’ll find resources to help you begin or maintain a scientist-educator partnership. The resources were chosen with the scientist in mind, but most will be helpful to K-12 teachers and administrators, as well as institutional outreach support teams. The list is not meant to be exhaustive. The goal is to give you a good sense of the available types of funding sources, programs, and resources. It should help you conduct searches if you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for at these websites. If you can’t find something or have any questions about partnerships please contact us at ose@science.education.nih.gov.

Communicating Science

As a scientist, you may be both comfortable with and effective at communicating science to your peers. However, when it comes to the public, reporters, or elected officials, most scientists have difficulty communicating science effectively. Even if we manage to use a vocabulary accessible to most, we often become engrossed in interesting but irrelevant details. We forget that while facts drive our world, others may relate better to anecdotes and examples. Learning to blend the two effectively is an art, but with a little effort, virtually everyone can learn how to do it.

Remember, using a common language is essential. Trying to impress people with your knowledge is counterproductive. Not only will you not be understood, but you may also be viewed as arrogant and convey the message that understanding is science beyond the reach of most people.

Also, try not to be too long-winded. Fifty-minute PowerPoint presentations will probably put an audience of parents to sleep. A reporter on a deadline won't have time to hear the esoteric details of your research. The school board has eight other agenda items and really can only allot you 10 minutes.

Resources for Communicating Science

The resources listed below are designed to make you a more effective communicator. While most address interactions with “nonscientists,” the principles apply equally well to communications with your peers. If you apply them uniformly, you’ll see improvements in your technical speaking and writing, too.

Communicating Science
http://communicatingscience.aaas.org/Pages/newmain.aspx External Web Site Policy
This is a Web site published by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that addresses several topics in science communication. It includes a primer of communications basics and a guide to working with reporters.

A Public Relations Guide for Local Sections
http://portal.acs.org/portal/fileFetch/C/WPCP_011168/pdf/WPCP_011168.pdf External Web Site Policy
This is an American Chemistry Society (ACS) manual for working with the print and broadcast press.

Communicating Science News
http://www.nasw.org/ External Web Site Policy
The National Association of Science Writers has created a number of Web-based resources designed to help scientists communicate with the media.

Communicating Science
http://www.bwfund.org/pages/361/Career-Development-Guide---Communicating-Science:--Giving-Talks/ External Web Site Policy
Published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Communicating Science: Giving Talks is a comprehensive guide to giving effective oral presentations of any kind to any audience.

Open-Access Journals on Communicating Science

Communicating Astronomy with the Public
http://www.capjournal.org External Web Site Policy

Journal of Science Communication
http://jcom.sissa.it External Web Site Policy

Pantaneto Forum
http://www.pantaneto.co.uk/ External Web Site Policy

Helping the Public Understand Science

Two types of sites are listed below. You can use them for information yourself, but they are also good sites for students and the public to peruse. Some explain what science is, what scientists do, and how science is relevant to their lives. Others provide information on topics that are of widespread interest in the public.

Animals in Research
http://science.education.nih.gov/animalresearch.nsf/index.htm
The site is designed to educate students, teachers, and the public on how and why animals are used in biomedical research.

Breakthroughs in Bioscience
http://opa.faseb.org/pages/Publications/breakthroughs.htm External Web Site Policy
Published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), these monographs outline the scientific process from initial discovery to the development of a clinical therapy.

Evolution
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/index.html External Web Site Policy
A variety of PBS digital resources for various audiences on the topic of evolution.

Findings (Evolutionary Theme Issue)
http://publications.nigms.nih.gov/findings/
The February 2009 issue of Findings, a National Institute of General Medical Sciences publication, is devoted to the topic of evolution.

I Don't Know What to Believe …
http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/30 External Web Site Policy
This is a short guide, written with input from patients, pharmacists, and medical practitioners, among others, to explain the peer-review process to the public. The principle behind this is that the public should ask, “Is it peer reviewed?” before accepting a science story.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education
http://science.education.nih.gov/
A variety of resources can be found at this site that are suitable for increasing student and public awareness of what scientists do and the relevance of science to their daily lives.

Stem Cell Information
http://stemcells.nih.gov/
A National Institutes of Health resource, the site explains the basics of stem cells.

This Is Science
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/people/jlipps/science.html External Web Site Policy
This resource from UC-Berkeley informs the public about why science is exciting, how it’s done, where it’s performed, and how the need to think critically is required not just for science, but for everyday life.

Understanding Science
http://undsci.berkeley.edu/index.php External Web Site Policy
Suitable for both students and the public, this site helps explain science and the scientific process as well as the importance of science and its relevance to everyday living. It also has "Correcting Misconceptions" and "FAQ" sections.

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