Pairs of scientists hopped up and down, fluttered their arms “like flowers in a breeze,” and made funny faces at each other. Each time one scientist in a pair moved, the other attempted to match his or her expressions and movements simultaneously.
It was all part of a theater exercise known as mirrors. The goal is for participants to pay such close attention to their partners that it is impossible to tell who is leading and who is following. The exercise, one of several at the interactive Sharing Science in Plain English panel at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2014 Fall Meeting, was intended to teach scientists how to read and better connect with audiences.
Ph.D. student Gifford Wong, who led the exercise, encouraged the scientists to move in ways their partners could easily mimic. The leaders, he said, were responsible for their partners’ success. Wong, who coteaches a science communications course at Dartmouth College, later explained that, as with this small-group exercise, scientists who want to successfully connect with their audience must think about listeners’ interests and needs.
The panel was one of more than 20 Sharing Science events at the Fall Meeting, which included a panel about the inner workings of Congress, a social media forum, a game night, several film screenings, and an open mic night. Hundreds of scientists took advantage of these events, where they learned how to connect with policy makers, community groups, educators, and journalists; engaged with one another over mutual interest in science outreach; and drew inspiration from other scientists who are sharing science in fun and interesting ways.
AGU’s Sharing Science program extends beyond the Fall Meeting and provides scientists with opportunities, tools, and support to effectively promote and communicate the value of widespread awareness of Earth and space science. The program offers workshops, webinars, online resources, and more.
—Mary Catherine Adams, Public Information Specialist and Sharing Science Program Co-Leader, AGU; email: [email protected]
Citation: Adams. M. C. (2015), Sharing Science events seek to engage and inspire, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO024669. Published on 20 February 2015.