Science Communication, Public Engagement & Outreach
Science Communication, Public Engagement with Science, and Outreach are areas of activity that can foster curiosity about, appreciation for or understanding of scientific concepts, processes and applications. Designers of Informal Science Education (ISE) exhibitions, public programs, media and games also have these and other outcomes in mind as they develop experiences and settings. ISE learning goals might also include self-efficacy or identification as a person who uses science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in their everyday lives. This page provides resources and links to bridge knowledge that has been growing as the result of experimentation, evaluation, research and reflective practice in these realms, which often go by different names but whose purposes and strategies overlap.
With new funding from the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program in 2016, the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) is expanding the community it serves to include scientists, as well as communication and engagement professionals whose job it is engage a diversity of audiences through education, outreach or broader impacts of research activities.
CAISE curates the InformalScience.org database with resources to support project development, evaluation and measurement, and research in informal STEM education (ISE) environments. By collecting and tagging papers, reports, articles and links drawn from the learning sciences, the science of science communication and other relevant research and practice CAISE will continue to add to this robust repository of knowledge in ways that will serve the wider, related fields.
Knowledge About Informal STEM Education (ISE)
- Three useful reports from the National Academies Press (NAP) are available for free download including Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places and Pursuits (2009), Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings (2016), and Effective Chemistry Communication in Informal Environments (2017). Most of the communication guidelines and strategies in the chemistry report can be applied to other disciplines.
- PLoS Biology published Informal Science Education: Lifelong, Life-Wide, Life-Deep (2014), an article by CAISE that serves as a brief introduction to the value and potential of ISE.
Knowledge About Science Communication
- The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine conducted Arthur D.Sackler Science of Science Communication colloquia in 2012 and 2013, and post agendas and videos from each here and here. NAP has also produced a companion volume to the colloquia that is available for free download here. A third Science of Science Communication colloquium is scheduled for November 16 & 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
- In 2017 the Oxford University Press published the Handbook on the Science of Science Communication which can be purchased here.
- The Journal for Research Science Teaching (JRST) released a special issue in 2015 on Bridging Science Education and Science Communication Research. The introductory editorial to the volume can be found here.
- CAISE includes articles from the Journal of Science Communication in the InformalScience.org repository of resources.
Professional Informal STEM Education Networks with Experience and Expertise in Supporting Communication, Engagement and Outreach
- National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net)
- Portal to the Public
- Citizen Science Association
Science Communication Training Programs
- Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science
- COMPASS Science Communication
- The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Art of Science Communication course
Every U.S. National Science Foundation grant proposal is reviewed based on two criteria--intellectual merit, and broader impacts. Broader impacts refers to the potential of research to not only advance knowledge, but to benefit society. This can come through broadening participation in STEM, tackling societal challenges, and advancing the public understanding of science. Scientists can strengthen the broader impacts of their proposals by collaborating with informal STEM education professionals, who bring their own expertise in communicating with diverse publics through rigorously evaluated experiences and settings.
Broader Impacts Organizations and Resources
- National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI)
- Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Broader Impacts Wizard
- CAISE report on Informal STEM Education Resources for Outreach, Engagement and Broader Impacts
If you are seeking vetted, scientifically sound informal STEM education activities, visit the How to Smile website, which contains thousands of examples developed by science centers and museums in a variety of disciplines.