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)
- The projects funded in 2017 by the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program provide models for best practice in the field, including Pilots and Feasibility Studies, Research in Service to Practice, Innovations in Development, Broad Implementation, Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-Analyses, and Conferences.
- 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). Many 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
- In February 2018 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released the first in a series of publications from their Public Face of Science initiative, called Perceptions of Science in America, which provides data, context and recommendations for those designing science communication and informal STEM learning activities.
- In December 2017, the Kavli, Moore, Packard and Rita Allen foundations launched a series of knowledge-generating workshops called Support Systems for Scientists' Communication and Engagement: An exploration of the people and institutions empowering effective impact
- The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine conducted Science of Science Communication colloquia in 2012, 2013 and 2017 and have posted agendas and videos from each here, here and here. National Academies Press (NAP) has also produced a companion volume to the 2017 colloquium (available for free download here) and the 2013 colloquium (available here). CAISE's summary overview of the 2017 colloquium can be found here.
- In 2017 the Oxford University Press published the Handbook on the Science of Science Communication which can be purchased here.
- Two useful reports published in 2016 by the National Academies Press (NAP) are available for free download, including Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda and Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts and Consequences.
- 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.
- The InformalScience.org Views pages contain blog pieces and interviews about science communication and the Calendar contains information about related conferences and opportunities
- CAISE also catalogs 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 tested, evidence-based 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. If you are seeking STEM learning opportunities for your family, or if you are a credible provider of such experiences wishing to showcase your program, find collaborators or recruit volunteers, visit the Connectory website- https://theconnectory.org/