Welcome to SciFund Challenge’s self-guided outreach course, which provides an introduction to science outreach! This course is intended for academics and science professionals that are new to science outreach, but are interested in getting started with it.
We also host Introduction to Outreach as a live, online, five-week class. This live class really emphasizes engagement between students and between students and class instructors. The reason for this is that it is challenging to improve science communication skills on your own. Learning science communication is something like learning a new language. You could learn French, Spanish, or Russian on your own, but working with other people makes it a lot easier. Science communication is very similar. As a consequence, we encourage you to take our live Introduction to Outreach class, which we run at least once a year. If you would like to be informed when the class opens to new students, please sign up for our mailing list!
However, even without the engagement component, reading through our material and doing the exercises will put you well ahead of the game with science outreach. So, be encouraged and read on!
At the end of this class, class participants should have:
1) a head start in spearheading their own outreach initiatives
2) a strategy for identifying their outreach audience
3) a method for communicating a science message compelling to their audience
4) experience with a diverse set of outreach tools
Everything you need for this class is contained within these pages, or uses free Internet resources, with one exception. In Week 2 of this class, we’ll be reading chapter 8 from the science outreach book Escape from the Ivory Tower. Participants in our live class get the book chapter as part of the course, but you will need to obtain the chapter on your own (do yourself a favor and buy the book). That being said, if you can’t get access to the book chapter, we provide an accessible alternative in the instructions for Week 2.
Our Introduction to Outreach Class is planned as a five-week self-guided course, with a specific plan for each week and each week taking roughly 3-5 hours to complete. Of course, you can go through the material at your pace.
Questions? Comments? We always love to chat with folks about science communication stuff. Please contact Jai Ranganathan (Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Anthony Salvagno (Director of Education, email@example.com).
Here is the overall plan and course material for the class week by week:
Week 1: Audience
For this week, we discuss the importance of identifying your audience. You can’t properly communicate to an audience you don’t understand, and this week we remove that hurdle from existence.
Week 2: Crafting Your Message
We’ll work on the tricky challenge of how to create a compelling message out of the often-hard-to-explain research that we do. The focus of the week will be a technique called the Message Box. Developed by COMPASS and road-tested by hundreds of scientists, it is a proven method for shaping science messages.
Week 3: Science Blogging
We’ll put our finely-crafted science messages to work, with our introduction to blogging. The focus here will be on messaging that is intended for non-specialist audiences. If you are nervous about public blogging, not to worry. Everything we do here will be on a private blog that only class participants can see. If you really begin to love blogging, we can help you take the next step by incorporating you into our own blog network!
Week 4: Public Presentations
Public speaking is one of the most common skills in science outreach. This week we will practice public speaking using a very specific type of short public presentation, called an Ignite talk.
Week 5: Images
Regardless of what kind of outreach you plan on doing, images will almost certainly play a key role. But how do you craft images that powerfully advance your outreach? That’s the focus of this week. In addition, we’ll be wrapping up stuff from previous weeks of the class.