[This was originally posted on yorkuniverse.com, and copied here for posterity’s sake. It is authored by both myself and Lianne Manzer]
On May 24th, 2014, York Universe hosts Lianne Manzer and Jesse Rogerson travelled to Montreal to present at the Genomes To/Aux Biomes Special Workshop on Science Communication. It was a half day workshop prior to the beginning of the Genomes To/Aux Biomes conference (a biology conference). With years of experience as radio hosts on York Universe, Lianne and Jesse were invited to create a hands on workshop that teaches the development of scientific podcasts for the attendees of the biology conference. Here is the title slide to the presentation:
The workshop was designed in three parts:
1. A formal presentation by Lianne and Jesse
2. Building a script, recording your voice
3. Editing with Audacity.
The first part was designed to give the participants some insight into how they should be thinking when building a podcast, i.e., researching, writing a script, story telling, documentation, communication with listeners. The second and third parts were designed to get the participants to actually attempt to build their own recording and edit it in the workshop.
The workshop was a huge success, as was the rest of the Science Communication Workshop; this included panel discussions and another break away group on blogging and social media.
Why teach scientists about public outreach?
There are a lot of good reasons for designing a workshop like this. Communication is an important part of ANY field, in whatever form it takes. In academia, people are constant drawn upon to write about, present about, or animate their results so that others in the research community can learn what you have done, and incorporate it accordingly in their own work. Science is built on the open source concept wherein you reach into the grab bag of work that has already been done, add your own experiment/twist/look at it, then send it back for others to do the same. It’s a wonderful system that requires good communication skills. By working to find the most important facts of your work and making it palatable for the public, you are also honing your ability to clearly and concisely communicate your work to the academic world as well. Therefore, by participating in public outreach, you are training yourself to better communicate with the layperson AND your peers.
It is also important to note that scientists have a duty to inform the public of what it is working on, because basic science has a huge impact on engineering, development, and future social connections. The public has a right to the knowledge scientists develop as it is funded by public dollars (for the most part).
Finally, public outreach is fun. It is a wonderful feeling to have someone excited about your field to talk to.