Once you have submitted the SciChats Educator Request Google form, Education Outreach will follow up with you via email. SciChats must be requested at least 3 weeks in advance to provide enough lead time to recruit a scientist. Even if you submit your request months in advance, we recruit scientists about 3 weeks before the session. This allows scientists to commit to the session and plan their experiments around participation.
The SciChats@Salk program uses a variety of different video-conference platforms including Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom among others. The Salk Education Outreach team has a laptop, webcam, speakers and a microphone that can be borrowed for the session. Please contact the EO team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about borrowing equipment.
Once a scientist has signed up for the session, you will receive a confirmation email connecting you with the scientist, confirming the details for the session (date, time, content description, connection instructions etc.) and a link to the scientist’s profile.
If you will be using Skype as the platform and this is your first time participating, please send a Skype connection request to the Salk Education Outreach Skype account (Username: salkeducationoutreach). The scientist will use this account for the session. If you are using Google Hangouts, please add the scientist’s email address provided in the confirmation email to your contacts. If you are using Zoom, you’ll be sent a Zoom meeting ID in your confirmation email. If you are requesting a platform not listed here, please email email@example.com for connection instructions.
If using Skype for the session, the application must be installed on the device(s), some district firewalls will prevent downloading the application. Please contact your IT team to see if they are able to help with application install.
Prior to the session, please review the scientist’s profile with the students. The profile will be posted on the profile page on this website for students to look at. This will help the students get to know a little bit about the scientist before talking to them and will give just enough details to brainstorm some questions. The description of the scientist’s research and vocabulary words will provide some helpful content background knowledge teachers can review with students before the session.
We highly encourage the teacher and scientist schedule a brief 5 minute connection test at least one day before the scheduled session to test the technology compatibility (WiFi in area is strong enough to support video-chat, both parties microphones and webcams are working, scientist is able to screen share, etc.). This connection test helps provide a smooth and user friendly experience for both parties.
Rundown of a SciChat
- ~5 mins before Chat: scientist logs into the designated video-chat account in a quiet area of their workspace (or home during periods of social distancing) and awaits the teacher’s call.
- Beginning of Chat: teacher calls scientist to start SciChat. Teacher and scientist make sure they can hear and see each other.
- Teacher introduces scientist to the class.
- Scientist presents to the class for ~15-20 minutes about themselves, their research/career and what they love about what they do – some scientist like to screen share Powerpoints, videos, graphs etc.
- Students ask questions of the scientist (facilitated by teacher) – in younger grade levels in a traditional classroom setting, students usually come up to the computer/webcam in the classroom to talk face to face or the group can elect a runner to read out questions that the group generates. For high school classrooms, Education Outreach has a wireless computer microphone that can be borrowed and passed around for the session. This continues for remainder of the session. NOTE ON STUDENT PARTICIPATION FOR DISTANCING LEARNING: Our team is still working on developing best practices for virtual student participation during the Q&A portion of the event; strategies for student engagement will vary depending on the grade level of the students and the platform selected for the SciChat. Teachers should refer to the confirmation email for additional information.
- Teacher cues the end of the session by asking students and scientist to share any final thoughts. Scientist and class say their farewells and both sign off.
After the SciChat, the EO team will email a link to the SciChat Post Session Evaluation Google Form that is used to provide the scientist with feedback. Emails or e-cards from the students thanking the scientist for participating are highly encouraged.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to connecting you with a scientist soon!