To set the stage for what we hope to achieve with these presentations, here are a few excerpts from the mission statement for the ‘I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!’ program that SciChats is modeled on.
“….there has been a growing enthusiasm for “the public understanding of science”. This was originally conceived as ‘teaching the public more science’. More recently a consensus has emerged that communication is a two-way process and scientists need to engage in a dialogue with wider society.”
“In order for citizens to meaningfully participate in this dialogue … an understanding of the scientific process is in many ways more crucial than an understanding of specific science facts… real world experience or ‘experiential learning’ is far more memorable for young people and helps them to develop life skills.”
That sums it up pretty well. Our goal here is not to strictly teach the students some particular nuggets of science information, but to expose them to the process of science, and to provoke their own desire to figure out how the world works. With that in mind, we should keep our presentations simple, clear, and engaging.
Each chat session will last roughly 35-50 minutes over video-conference. Your presentation should take about 15-20 minutes. The remaining time will be for questions and discussion with the students.
Now, on to the anatomy of the presentation. Please keep in mind, the content of a presentation may vary depending on a teacher’s request. In 15 minutes, expect to have time to cover:
- Introduction: Questions to consider – How did you become interested in science? What do you work on? Why is it important?
- How the methods you use work – you can describe and show cool tools you use in the lab, for high school level you may consider demoing a technique or show actual results if possible
- 1-2 pieces of data and how it relates back to the “big picture”
That’s it. Seriously. If you manage to get through your entire presentation in the time allotted, we may be doing something wrong. The goal here is to spark curiosity and get the students excited to ask questions as soon as possible. Analogies, illustrations, and media will be key to getting your ideas across and keeping the students engaged.