2014 Outreach Class: Week Five

Going strong through the finish line, SciFund-style.

Welcome to week five of the SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists. This is our last week, sadly! But the fun doesn’t stop here, as there are lots of SciFund classes coming, as well as other ways to keep participating. Apply for our free video class, which starts next month!

This week, we’ll be working on our elevator pitches, as well as planning for our science outreach futures. The workload this week is lower than usual, as many are still working on their Ignite talks from last week. If you want more to do though, not to worry! We have a special optional exercise for you. So, here’s the game plan:

  1. Finish up your Ignite talk and practice with a partner (use #SciFund hashtag on Twitter to find a partner).
  2. Learn about elevator pitches and record yourself giving one.
  3. Put your pitch video on the SciFund wiki and comment on the pitches of others.
  4. Make a public pledge about your science outreach plans.
  5. Talk about your science outreach plans in a group discussion section.
  6. Twitter: live group discussion

Part 1: Ignite talks. If you haven’t yet finished yours and practiced with a partner, please do so. If you are looking for a partner, please do post a note on Twitter and the Google+ page for the class.

Parts 2 and 3: elevator pitches. An elevator pitch is a compelling and short speech (two minutes or less) about your research intended for someone who isn’t in your field. Think of it as what you might say to a member of the public who you just met. As a first step, please read this short article in Nature that discusses how to give an elevator pitch. The article features Nancy Baron, who wrote the book chapter about the Message Box that we read in week two. The article should seem very familiar, as we have covered in depth many of the topics discussed there (stay away from jargon, etc.).

Once you have read up on elevator pitches, please prepare a two minute pitch about your own research. As you put your pitch together, remember all that we have covered in this class about effective communication (your Message Box, remember your audience, etc.). Although you are welcome to make brief notes, it is a terrible idea to actually write out a full script. Written language is very different than spoken language and nothing is more excruciating than hearing someone recite a script.

Please record a video of yourself giving your elevator pitch and upload the video to Youtube (please see step 8 from week one’s instructions for reminders how to do this). Hopefully, you will find a big difference between this video and the one you recorded at the beginning of this class! Here’s a pro tip for being more animated while recording video: imagine yourself talking to a person who is just behind the camera. Please post your YouTube video on the class’ Google+page and include a link to your week one video in that post (please mark your post with the category of Week Five).  See the Google+ page for the class for an illustration. Please comment on the videos of at least three other class participants.

Part 4: your science outreach future. The purpose of this class is to give you the tools and community you need to actually get started with science outreach. So, let’s get started! Please make a general plan for your science outreach activities for the next six months. As you are planning, think of all of the activities we have done in this class, along with the awesome outreach stuff others in the class are already doing. So that we all can know what we are planning, please write your outreach plan on a Google document that I posted on the Google+ page for the class (under the category of Week Five). A key reason we want you to write your plan down, where others can see it, so that we can hold each other accountable. As part of that, we’ll be publicly posting these outreach pledges on this blog.

For those of you who are considering blogging, you should know that we’ll be starting shortly a series of group blogs right here on SciFund Challenge. All of you are welcome to start a blog, which we’ll be prominently featuring. We have two requirements though! First we want you to pledge, for the blog as a whole, to post at least once a week. That is, the blog should have a new post at least once a week (which is easier to do when there are multiple people behind the blog). And the second requirement is that there be more than one person behind each blog. If there are other people in the class who you have found interesting, you are encouraged to team up with them for a group blog (you can find each other easily, as all of your contact information is on the google+ page for the class). Note though that people who are blogging with you don’t need to be part of this class. Please get a hold of me, if you’d like to sign up for a group blog on SciFund Challenge.

Part 5: discussion sections. Please sign up for a discussion section for this week to talk about your outreach plans.

Part 6: Twitter. There have been a lot of questions over the past several weeks from class participants about Twitter. What do you do with it, exactly? One thing that Twitter can be very useful for is group discussions. To give you a sense of the potential value of a Twitter discussion, we’ll be doing a live Twitter chat this week on Thursday, October 23 at 4 PM Pacific (UTC−8). For an hour, beginning at 4 PM, we’ll be using the #SciFund hashtag on Twitter to talk about our outreach plans, as well as anything else about the class that comes up. So, please do participate by tweeting with #SciFund at that time!

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