Science Communication Fellows

JISAO Scientists become Science Communication Fellows

Pacific Science Center, 2010

Drew Hamilton, research scientists in the Atmospheric Chemistry Group, Karin Bumbaco, Assistant State Climatologist, and Guillaume Mauger, postdoctoral research fellow with the Climate Impacts Group, have become official Science Communication Fellows with Pacific Science Center (PSC). The new program, part of PSC's Portal to the Public initiative, offers a series of professional development workshops during which scientists learn how to communicate key messages about their research to the general public. PSC science educators provide one-on-one assistance to help new Fellows create a hands-on educational activity directly related to their work. Activities can be used at PSC events, in K-12 classroom visits, and other outreach venues.

Spotlight on Science

Karin and Guillaume debuted their hands-on activities at Pacific Science Center's Scientist Spotlight in February. They worked together to develop an activity that gets PSC guests to think about the best places in Washington State to install rain gauges. Science center visitors are asked to place miniature rain gauges on a map of Washington. They cover the map with a sheet of plexiglass drilled with holes in sizes that match the average amount of precipitation received in different parts of the state (large holes over areas that get the most precipitation). Guests then make it "rain" over the state using a watering can and check the gauges to see how much water was collected (video demo). The activity was a huge hit!

Karin and Guillaume developed individual activities as well. Karin designed a deceptively simple experiment using black beans to represent year-to-year precipitation totals that she uses to demonstrate the difference between weather and climate. The activity enables visitors to compare precipitation averages between Seattle and New York City with a surprising outcome for many people - NYC gets a lot more precipitation than Seattle!

Guillaume created a large wooden puzzle to represent the different components that go into climate models. Visitors put the puzzles pieces into a "computer" - playfully constructed of cardboard - and run their own mock climate model. The activity facilitates discussions of different climate change impacts forecasted for our state and what those impacts might mean for snow pack in our mountains affecting winter sports, and water levels in our rivers affecting dairy farmers and apple orchards.

Drew built a life-like model of a NOAA research vessel as the centerpiece of his display. Blocks labeled with the acronyms of various research projects represent portable labs that kids, and adults, can load on the ship. Drew's activity naturally leads to discussions about life onboard a Drew Hamilton with model ship he builtresearch cruise and the preparation that goes into mounting a cruise. Fellow research team members from JISAO and NOAA helped Drew create two posters that provide additional information about the Atmospheric Chemistry Group and NOAA ships.

Pacific Science Center will continue to have the Scientist Spotlight event the first Saturday of every month with local scientists explaining their research. Karin, Guillaume, and Drew will participate in these activities intermittently throughout the year.

The Science Communication Fellows Program is part of PSC's Portal to the Public.