Informal Science Education for Scientists and Engineers

Dates: TBD
Times: TBD
Location: TBD
Instructors: Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel and Matthew Stilwell
Registration closes: TBD
Credit: 2 credits, MSE 803
Satisfies prerequisite toward the Delta Certificate: ΔΔ (2 deltas)

“Not only is it important to ask questions and find the answers, as a scientist I felt obligated to communicate with the world what we were learning.” Stephen Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions

This course seeks to familiarize STEM graduate students and postdocs with the concepts, processes, and tools needed to successfully communicate scientific concepts with a variety of audiences in informal settings. Beyond providing basic communication skills, the course encourages participants to see these communication tools as part of an ongoing process of inquiry, much like the research they conduct in their own disciplines. Integrated throughout the semester will be:

(1) the importance of understanding your audience and the diversity of backgrounds and motivations individuals bring to the table;
(2) how to explain complex concepts and processes in a clear and interesting way;
(3) the design, production, and evaluation of an informal education product; and
(4) the breadth of informal science venues and modalities available to the general public.

The course merges experiential learning with critical reflection on public communication concepts, processes, and issues. We will interact with modalities such as radio, podcasts, science journalism, children’s books, museums, and outreach events; and we will explore how to communicate effectively with audiences ranging from K through grey.

Satisfies ΔΔ (2 deltas)

What are participants saying about this course?

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to explore so many different avenues of informal science education (podcast, video, etc.) and to learn from people who do it for a living – and do it well! I have a renewed sense of motivation to explore and develop skills in a variety of forms of science education, and will take what I’ve learned in this class with me to Science is Fun events, my mentoring of undergraduate lab and tutoring students, my hopeful future career as a science educator, and beyond!”
— Katherine Parrish

“This course really opened my eyes to the different careers in informal education, especially in outreach-related fields. The instructors had professionals in the field of informal education come to classes to speak to us about their experiences and why they chose their jobs and how they got to where they are, I think that was the most valuable thing for me because I got to explore my options and see that their paths were similar to the path that I am on now. I would highly recommend this course if you are interested in informal education such as STEM outreach, science podcasting or radio, or STEM-related video education.”
— Bobbi Jo Helgemoe

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