Activities for the Public

Communicating science effectively to the public is definitely a skill. Scientific research can be complex and very specific. Part of the skill of getting the public engaged in science is taking that information and making connections – connections between ideas, and connections between the scientist and the public. During the second in my series of science communication workshops that I am leading as a part of this Glaciology Summer School, students participated in some activities that illustrated some strategies for engaging non-scientists in science. Things like… how to build a common perspective (aka get on the same page), make meaningful experiences, use thoughtful question sequencing, while also remembering that learning is personal and connected to each person’s own background and experiences. I then challenged students to conceptuallly develop “hands-on” activities related to their research that could be done in a museum or classroom – anything from a demonstration to a game-style challenge to a more structured hands-on activity.

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Some of the students working on their activity concepts, outside the old McCarthy hardware store

All 27 students came up with a fantastic range of ideas – it’s just too bad they all can’t physically build their activities and come to Miami to show them off! (But hopefully it’s an idea they may build for later in their own home town or country…)

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Simulate an atmosphere & then test weather conditions like rain (spray bottle), sun (light bulb), wind (a fan) and cloud cover, to see how weather and heat affect glaciers (icy surface)

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Racing glaciers – model different glacier conditions using flubber (which deforms like ice as it flows) and water (to lubricate “glacier bed” surface), to “race” glaciers down a slope

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Learn science and measurement techniques in person, and then go home and take your own measurements of weather conditions like snow depth, to digitally contribute data from more places not previously studied

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