• Question: What's your favorite interactive method to share scientific info to a general audience?

    Asked by myndwalk to Andrew, Lindsay, Paige, Sean, Jeff on 10 Feb 2016.
    • Photo: Andrew Maynard

      Andrew Maynard answered on 10 Feb 2016:

      The most fun? Chatting with a small group over a beer/coffee. I tend to learn as much (at least) as others do from me, and it’s a great reminder that we all have interesting things to bring to the table, as well as interesting stuff to learn from others.

      At the other end of the spectrum, I enjoy giving talks to big crowds, but it’s not as interactive.

      Online stuff cam work well – I write a lot for a broad (non expert) audience – but it’s always at its best where there’s vigorous interaction, whether in comments or on something like Twitter.

      I’m A Scientist’s also pretty good 😉

    • Photo: Jeff Shi

      Jeff Shi answered on 11 Feb 2016:

      I’ve taken to using 3D printing technology to replicate museum specimens for scientific “show and tell,” so to speak. People are always super impressed by the level of detail we can get with industrial 3D printers, but are equally impressed with how much information on biodiversity is present in just museum specimens!

    • Photo: Sean Murphy

      Sean Murphy answered on 11 Feb 2016:

      I enjoy more of an interactive Q&A type discussion, where I can hear about what interests other people and can try to answer specific questions people might have. This helps me learn to be a better communicator by understanding what people find exciting and what they find difficult to understand.

      I also like hands-on training where a student comes to learn a new skill or technique. It is great to see someone grow and learn and even better when they end up teaching me something I didn’t know!

    • Photo: Lindsay Hunter

      Lindsay Hunter answered on 11 Feb 2016:

      I enjoy drop-in methods of engagement, like a booth at the State Fair. These kinds of venues attract a broad audience, many of which never expected to do anything more than eat a few fried foods on a stick and maybe enjoy a few beers. The opportunity to inject some science learning into their day might first have them somewhat skeptical, but with a bit of humor, some activities, demos, show and tell, and maybe a bribe or two (temporary tattoos, or candy, OR BOTH!), and suddenly, we’re sciencing while they wait for the sheep-shearing contest to start!

      I love these guerrilla methods that draw in your non-typical scicomm audience! Science flash-mob? Why the heck not?!

    • Photo: Paige Brown Jarreau

      Paige Brown Jarreau answered on 12 Feb 2016:

      Great answers here!
      Although my first hang-up is the term “general audience.” Most scientists and science communicators probably rarely reach a general audience. My favorite interactive method of sharing scientific info from my OWN research is by tweeting out bits of it – from a series of tweets describing something I just discovered during data analysis, to charts and graphs of preliminary data. I like doing this because 1) it makes me feel like I’m sharing research in progress, which I see as an inherently good thing, and 2) it lets others give me their insights on my data and findings! But if I’m honest, those who see and interact with the scientific info I share via Twitter are mostly NOT a general audience – they consist mostly of other scientists, students of science, science writers and communicators, and other people generally interested in science communication / science blogging.

      Your audience depends on your venue / platform, so if I was really going for an interactive method to share scientific info to a general audience, I might pick something other than Twitter. But I enjoy the two-way communication that happens currently when I DO share my research in progress via Twitter and my blog.