On my Mini Stories from Science
Posted on February 21, 2015
The most effective way of teaching and communicating science that I know is to take students, listeners and viewers behind the scenes to share WHY scientists ask the questions that they do and HOW they go about looking for answers. Unfortunately, many teachers and other communicators still focus primarily on WHAT scientists do or have done. This is like a football commentator baldly stating that a player kicked the ball into the net, without saying anything about the significance of the match, the effect on the result, or even the name of the player.
One reason that the why and how are so often missing is that teachers and communicators simply don’t know about them. It’s not their fault – this sort of material is often only accessible to insiders, and frequently hidden by the scientists concerned. They build beautiful conceptual structures, but take the scaffolding away before they let anyone see the result.
But if science is to be a truly integral part of our culture, people need to understand, appreciate, and be enthralled by the process, not just the result. This is where my experience as an interdisciplinary scientist and communicator comes in. It has enabled me to collect stories from personal experience, biographical snippets, and anecdotal material that reflect the real practice of science, as opposed to the laundered, trimmed and tidied-up version that is usually taught.
I offer these stories here as an ongoing resource for teachers and communicators to help add texture and depth to their communication. I have no idea how it is going to turn out; all that I know is that I have to do it. To keep up, just register for RSS feed!
Shortly I will set up a dynamic index for these stories, so that they can be used as an ongoing reference source. For the moment, though, they are here to be dipped into and enjoyed.