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Speaking of Physics:  The Art of Science Communication
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Speaking of Physics: The Art of Science Communication


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This is from my invited talk at AAPT. …

This is from my invited talk at AAPT.

Why leave it up to the “experts” (i.e., the media) to portray physics accurately and positively? Speak for yourself, without the need for a translator who may – or may not – get it right. As a scientist, you can talk about what your work means and why it’s important with an authority that a science writer doesn’t bring to the table. While we can’t all be Brian Greene, you can have control over how your work – and physics in general – is presented to the public. In this talk, I’ll share some best practices of science communication – gleaned during my time as a science reporter at NPR and elsewhere. These simple tips can take a lifetime to master, but can help you get your message across – to the public, the media, and even Aunt Mabel.

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  • 1. Speaking of Physics...The Art of ScienceCommunicationStephanie Chasteenhttp://sciencegeekgirl.comImages: Tom Tomorrow, Amy Snyder
  • 2. Audio: David Kestenbaum & Marvin Marshak: Neutrinos
  • 3. My points for todayWe can’t treat the public like they’re stupid We can’t treat the public like they’re physicists, either By being good communicators, we canreach the public and impact their views of scientists!
  • 4. Our image problem J.J. on Wikimedia
  • 5. Who are we communicating with?• Our students• Other academics (across disciplines)• The public• The media Image from:
  • 6. the media is powerfulImage by Tomasz Sienicki
  • 7. Science Communication Models1. scientific literacy (1960-1980’s) let’s educate that ignorant public media & scientists public
  • 8. the deficit model science “The deficit model assumes that the public are empty vessels waiting to be filled with useful information upon which they will rationally act.” Nerlich, Koteyko, and Brown, “Theory and language of climate change communication,” Wiley Interdisciplinary reviews, 1, 2010.
  • 9. Science Communication Models1. scientific literacy (1960-1980’s) let’s educate that ignorant public2. public understanding of science (1960-1980’s) let’s make them love science media & scientists public
  • 10. Science Communication Models1. scientific literacy (1960-1980’s) let’s educate that ignorant public2. public understanding of science (1960-1980’s) let’s make them love science3. science & society (present) we have the attitude problem media & scientists public
  • 11. 3keep it know your keysimple audience points metaphors,make it message analogy,relevant examples build no tell a fromjargon story familiar
  • 12. These should seem familiar to you as educators... People have prior knowledge & beliefs Scaffold understanding Motivation is important to learning Don’t exceed cognitive load Make it relevant / connect to everyday life Respect learners
  • 13. but communication is not education create awarenessexpose to new ideas plant a seed inspire “edutainment”
  • 14. Don’t be so cerebral
  • 15. stories are so importantAudio: Christopher Joyce and William Eberhard, A Spider’s Web Image: Luc Viatour,
  • 16. How do you tell your story? mo delscie ntist background supporting details (data) results & conclusions “the facts speak for themselves”
  • 17. the deficit model does not work!
  • 18. st m odeljournali bottom line key details (data) back- ground What’s your elevator speech?
  • 19. There’s more to life than accuracy “The reason you cant walk through a wall is that your atoms and the atoms in the wall interact with each other. They speak the same language”* * it’s more complicated than that understandability accuracy & interest
  • 20. there is a time for tellingimage from
  • 21. So, it is important to communicate well. But we don’t just need to repeat our message louder1. Our messages are often hard to understand2. Our messages are often too boring3. And we need more than a message
  • 22. o... More resources publications/scientist-media- guide.html 23
  • 23. Shameless Plug Learning About Teaching Physics. AAPT funded audio podcast communicating physics education research (PER) to teachers. Poster PST2B04 tonight 6:00 pm
  • 24. Thank you!Notes and presentation will be posted at How does this work? Maybe some physicist can tell us, using simple language and familiar metaphors? Yeah, by telling us a concise interesting and entertaining story full of substance! Poster PST2B04 tonight 6:00 pm
  • 25. what goes wrong? we need to know & communicate about the challenges of implementationimage from