Communicating Chemistry: Framework for Sharing Science: A Practical Evidence-Based Guide

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A growing body of evidence indicates that, increasingly, the public is engaging with science in a wide range of informal environments, which can be any setting outside of school such as community-based programs, festivals, libraries, or home. Yet undergraduate and graduate schools often don’t prepare scientists for public communication.

This practical guide is intended for any chemist – that is, any professional who works in chemistry-related activities, whether research, manufacturing or policy – who wishes to improve their informal communications with the public. At the heart of this guide is a framework, which was presented in the report Effective Chemistry Communication in Informal Environments and is based on the best available empirical evidence from the research literature on informal learning, science communication, and chemistry education. The framework consists of five elements which can be applied broadly to any science communication event in an informal setting.

Climate Confusion Among US Teachers, Plutzer et al.

Published in Science

This study collected data from 1500 public middle- and high-school science teachers from all 50 U.S. states, representative of the population of science teachers in terms of school size, student socioeconomic status, and community economic and political characteristics. The resulting data showed gaps in teacher knowledge and resources. The paper additionally discusses social and political pressures impacting teaching.

To address these issues the paper concludes by highlighting the need for middle-school and high-school teachers to have access to training on current research in climate change. “College and university instructors will need help reaching teachers and teachers-in-training who bring diverse political and value commitments to the classroom—particularly in avoiding “boomerang effects,” in which attempts to promote a particular view can instead harden opposition. This may entail acknowledging and addressing conflicts that teachers (and their students) may feel between their values and the science. Such instruction will promote understanding of the science as well as the pedagogy that future teachers will need to promote climate science literacy.

HBCUs: An Unheralded Role in STEM Majors and a Model for Other Colleges

Published in The Chronicle of Higher Education

In this article by Ken Leichter, he outlines the benefits and successes that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have achieved for supporting African American students in completing majors that lead to higher paying jobs – particularly in the STEM disciplines. He contrasts this success with research evidencing the challenges and poor retention outcomes seen at other colleges and universities. He offers the HBCU model as one that should be preserved because of its success, but also as a leader from which other institutions can learn from in order to better address their own disparities in outcomes and service to African American students.