Public Engagement with Science

JISAO invited to participate in discussion about improving public engagement with scientists

Pacific Science Center: September 27-28, 2010

Portal to the Public logoJISAO's Education and Outreach Coordinator, Jed Thompson, attended a two-day meeting at Pacific Science Center (PSC) in Seattle to discuss ideas for improving public audiences' engagement with current science and technology.

The meeting, titled Innovations to Advance Public Engagement with Scientists in Informal Science Education Institutions, is part of PSC's Portal to the Public program. Portal to the Public is a three-year

project that began in 2007. Over this time, it has developed a framework for educators to engage scientists and public audiences in face-to-face interactions that promote appreciation and understanding of science.

Key components of the program have been to create a variety of professional development workshops, one-on-one support systems, and activities used to prepare scientists to interact with the public. These experiences use hands-on activities to illustrate key concepts. Now that the project is over, PSC brought together a group of participants that includes research scientists, public audience, and science educators to discuss their perspectives on the program.

On day one of the meeting participants experienced live demonstrations, heard from Portal to the Public scientists, and discussed findings from research and evaluations. Day twol featured structured, small-group discussions to brainstorm "next step" innovations that will advance engagement between scientists and the public. Groups also discussed elements necessary for sustainable Portal to the Public efforts as well as public policy efforts that support public engagement with scientists and educators.

JISAO scientists Karin Bumbaco, Drew Hamilton, and Guillaume Mauger have all become Science Communication Fellows through the Portal to the Public program.