Newton liked to read – Communicating science while reading

Author: Marta Condesso, University of Aveiro – Fábrica Ciência Viva Science Centre, Portugal

Co-authors: Sofia Teixeira, Pedro Pombo

“Newton liked to read!” is a science communication project to promote in school libraries, dedicated to students of all ages, aiming to approach: science centre and community, reading and science studying.

As a partnership between science centre: “Fábrica Centro Ciência Viva de Aveiro” and “Rede de Bibliotecas Escolares”, a national school libraries net, this initiative creates annual programmes that associate literature reading events and science communication moments, by mixing books in the library with scientific experimental activities, that some part of some text introduces.

Main goals are: communicate science in a captivating and innovating manner, mantaining scientific rigor; simultaneously motivate younger audience to reading and science studying ; contribute to a more skilled, critical and informed citizenship.

Each session starts in an agreeable ambience of peculiar “storytelling” mood and, with certain words from the text, advances to simple scientific concepts, experiments, constructions. This comes up naturally, proving itself to be a privileged way to communicate science and to enlarge school libraries horizons. A book, a video, an audio cd (with music, narrated texts) gives path to a scientific activity. Some subject in the story, an excerpt, a rhyme can promote a scientific exploration.

Methodology used in every Module (20 different modules, with different reading supports and exploring different scientific areas) concerns: kits conception (with: the book, all material needed to the scientific activity, scientific booklet with information to support the sessions) and workshops to prepare teachers to reply the sessions by themselves).

This paper will present implemented activities, results obtained, and some conclusions will be advanced, based on evaluation data.

Author: Trevor Collins

This workshop will focus on how we use digital tools for public engagement with science and technology. Building on research findings from the Aberdeen and Open Universities’ Public Engagement with Research Catalyst projects, we will draw on the facilitators’ experiences in North America and Europe, and the workshop participants’ reflections on the role of digital technologies. We will explore the following questions: What are the challenges of using digital technologies to support engaged research with varied communities? What are the roles the digital researcher must fill? What motives underlie a commitment to digital engagement? In recent years, the move towards engaged research has become more and more apparent, from the UK’s impact agenda for research, the European Responsible Research and Innovation agenda, and more globally the drive towards broader impacts that reach beyond pure commercial return. At the same time, digital technologies and social media are exerting an ever-increasing influence; researchers, science communication professionals, policy-makers and publics are increasingly using digital methods to communicate their research and engage with different stakeholder communities. Participants will review a number of illustrative scenarios taken from a range of contexts where social media has been appropriated to support public engagement. These will include the discussion of controversial research issues, complex research, risk and the development of new ideas for digital engagement. In discussing these scenarios participants will consider the social, ethical and practical aspects of a number of public engagement approaches, and develop strategies for critically reviewing their individual, group, and institutional engagement practices. There is huge opportunity for high-quality meaningful engagement through genuine dialogue via digital platforms, but in our experience one-way mass-communication has tended to prevail. In this session we want to draw on past experience to look at what we could achieve in the future.

Author: Michel Claessens

As our society is increasingly confronted with major and global problems, we see as a parallel evolution an increase in the number of research projects carried out through explicit international and multidisciplinary approaches.

How multinational projects and multicultural organisations are addressing the communication challenges and the recent evolutions in the media and PCST landscapes?

With examples taken from the European Commission (which implements the European Union’s Framework Programme for research), CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research, where the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012) and ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which will be the biggest fusion reactor in the world), this talk will show how these big international research organisations are coping with these challenges. How do they address cultural and linguistic issues, which are crucial when reaching out the public at large? How do they promote open science (also called science 2.0)? Are there significant differences with national projects and initiatives?

At first glance, it seems that these organisations are all encouraging their scientists to engage with the public and promote the science-society dialogue, although there are clear differences between them. However, it is also clear that these organisations are neither doing pure science communication nor developing ‘public’ relations in the proper sense. Informing the public is not their only motivation; they also aim at shaping and influencing the public opinion. Nevertheless, these organisations are now PCST-oriented (albeit with some delay for the European Commission and quite limited resources for the ITER Organization).

Author: Huiping Chu

A study on visitors’ identity-related motivations at science museums in China Huipng Chu Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL. In 2009, John H Falk published his book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. In this book, he introduces the concept of the “the Museum Visitor Experience Model” and categorises visitors into five groups: Explorer, Facilitator, Experience seeker, Professional/Hobbyists, and Recharger. (Falk, 2009, p. 158) This theoretical model is the result of empirical work arising from his research, based mostly in the US. There is no relevant research on this topic conducted under other cultural and social backgrounds, especially in China. By questionnaire survey and face-to-face interview, my project is conducted to find out what are the identity-related motivations (or categories) of visitors at China’s science museums, and what are the connections or relationships between visitors’ demographics (and other features) and their motivations. I have done more than 1200 questionnaires in three science museums in China to collect enough statistically significant data and all interview work also has been done. Now I am working on data processing and I am sure all work will be completed before the PCST conference 2016. I also have confidence in the interesting findings to come. Based on the existing results, it is clear that female visitors have advantages both in numbers and education levels. My project can be an attempt to explore how to apply this western science communication theory in Chinese cultural background, and it can contribute to the science museum study in China by introducing a new theoretical model and help the English science communication world know the situation of China’s science museums.

Author: Jawhar Cholakkathodi

Now, more than ever, the engagement between science and everyday life has become very strong. We are living in an age where science and technology has become an inseparable part of our life, the interrelation between science and society demands an active academic and public debate. Science movement is an important access strip to understand the relationship between science and society. This paper is an attempt to understand science movement through the framework of Science and Technology Studies (STS). Science movement strive to popularize science among the general public in different ways, and to pose critical questions about the applications of modern science and technology. The study focuses on the Kerala Sasthra Sashithya Parishath (KSSP) (hereafter Parishath) as a case study of science movements. Parishath is a people’s science movement that emerged in Kerala, the southernmost state in India, in the 1960s. It strives to take modern science and technology to the common people and educate them about the potential risks and benefits of the same. The Parishath, through its activities, developed a political movement in the context of science and technology. The Parishath is entering into fiftieth year of its active and vibrant engagement with Kerala public sphere. In this historical juncture, it’s very important to take stock of the role of this People’s Science Movement (PSM) in the construction of a sustainable future.

Author: Saowanee Chinnalong PhD. Candidate, University of Leeds is one of the oldest online forums in Thailand. Established in 1996, it remains popular today with one million members and seven million page views per day. Using digital technology has clearly made it easy for the Thai middle class to join in discussions on This study analyses’s role as a platform specifically for science discussion in Thai culture. I focus on the discussion of Einstein in particular, since my preliminary survey drawing on the print media shows that the middle class expresses an extraordinarily high level of interest in Einstein. My presentation explores popular depictions of Einstein in terms of indigenous Thai appropriations of Einstein as a Buddhist thinker. From this I develop an understanding of his broader symbolic role in the Thai public view of science as a mode of passive contemplation rather than economically productive investigation.

Author: Mary Chambers, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam

Co-authors: Gill Black, Alun Davis, Joanna Wheeler

Participatory methods are regularly employed in development and engagement activities because they are accepted to be sensitive to the needs of communities whilst promoting their deeper involvement and a sense of ownership of issues and solutions being addressed. Community generated, or led, media (CLM) such as photo voice, participatory film and video diaries, has been used within the development sector for well over 30 years. Recently we are seeing it used increasingly within engagement with health research programmes in developing country contexts. Despite wide use of participatory community media the conversation around ethics and the use of these methods is still young. Bringing these methods into the context of health research raises further ethical questions.

CLM is said to enable the expression of opinion and sharing of experiences. This is assumed to be empowering, particularly when used with vulnerable groups who may not have a voice in their communities. Apart from the assumed cathartic and empowering benefits of the process, CLM may also be used as an advocacy tool, since the media outputs, in the form of photographs, photo stories or film, can portray personal stories in a more emotive and meaningful manner than text perhaps can.

Despite its potential, the use of CLM for social research or engagement raises fundamental ethical questions especially around anonymity and consent.

Through this discussion a group of practitioners and academics will explore the ethical issues that arise when communities generate media to tell their stories, and share examples and practice from a range of research settings. The panel will describe a diverse use of participatory digital approaches including: Participatory video in evaluating engagement between researchers and schools in Kenya; Consent in CLM processes: an ongoing issue viewed from a South African perspective; Ethical issues in the use of CLM in a Vietnamese context.

Author: Anwesha Chakraborty, University of Bologna, Italy

Science popularization has gained significant momentum in India as evident in the setting up of more than forty science centres in the last three decades. National Council of Science Museums (NCSM hereafter) which is accountable to the Indian Ministry of Culture for funding purposes, manages this network of museums and centres not only in cities and urban zones, but also in rural areas. The pace at which India is addressing the need of science popularization is, however, not new. The first scientific and technological museum in Kolkata was established in 1959, about a decade after India’s independence (1947), to preserve significant objects of national scientific heritage.

Soon though, state science policies were geared towards promotion of self-sufficiency in fields of science and technology, hence the interest shifted from traditional science museums to science centres whose purpose was promotion of scientific literacy and inclusive scientific education. The NCSM was thus born in 1978 and was provided complete government support. The focus of science communication in India was firmly on science teaching and not science appreciation, resulting in the creation of a number of new centres. Saroj Ghose, the erstwhile director of NCSM and ICOM ascertains, India had already positioned herself at the forefront of the global science centre movement.

The paper, designed as an introduction to science communication in India, seeks to critically examine the role of NCSM with respect to the changing interests of the state in the content of science which was to be popularized and the global transformation of the traditional science museum space to include the hands-on approach of science centres. To support the arguments, the paper will use interviews already carried out with the top management and senior officials, annual reports, budgets and the digital archives of the NCSM and the central government.

Author: Ana Luiza Cerqueira Das Neves

Understanding the public perception regarding socio-scientific controversies is needed for a science communication that can be carried out in order to facilitate the understanding of sciences as social processes, and thereby to contribute to scientific literacy. This study aims to identify the public perception about the use of animals in scientific research, focusing in museum visitors. It also aims to understand what arguments influence and sustain these perceptions. The preliminary results indicate that the main differences regarding the agreement level to animal experimentation refer to gender aspects and pet ownership. Regarding gender, we found a higher level of agreement on the part of men. Knowing that men and women react differently to this question, and that this difference is related to more intrinsic issues, can help us to formulate communication actions that deepen and address conflicts that go beyond animal testing, but also include relevant socio-cultural aspects. In our analysis, regarding pet ownership, people who have pets tend to stand in contrast to animal testing that aims to save human lives. In addition, respondents who own pets tend to agree with the research on monkeys, mice and fish, but not with dogs and cats. From these results, we sought to understand and map the major conflicts involving discussions on the theme “animal experimentation”. These discussions unfold over the years, usually guided by the same arguments, and often reinforced by the media, which generally prompts people to choose one side. Initiatives that foster a greater social participation in discussion, reflection and decision-making concerning this controversial issue are rare in Brazil. For this reason, we want to bring to this scenario consensus conferences as a powerful tool for science communication related to controversial issues. We believe that a deliberative approach and participation of society are important elements to conflict solutions.

Author: Chiara Ceci, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), United Kingdom

In June 2015 the Royal Society of Chemistry published the results of study on what the UK public thinks and feels about chemists, chemistry and chemicals. It is a qualitative and quantitative research, including a national public survey, with 2,104 face-to-face interviews with UK adults (16+). The poster will include the infographic with the summary of the findings, and elements of the communications toolkit.

Author: Chiara Ceci, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), United Kingdom

Co-authors: Massimiano Bucchi, Martin W Bauer

Chiara Ceci (PR Executive, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
Public attitudes to chemistry in the UK
In June 2015 the Royal Society of Chemistry published the results of study on what the UK public thinks and feels about chemists, chemistry and chemicals. It is a qualitative and quantitative research, including a national public survey, with 2,104 face-to-face interviews with UK adults (16+). I’ll look at the top line results and highlight how they show that chemistry may have an image problem but it’s not the one chemists thought it had.

Massimiano Bucchi (Science and Technology in Society, Uni Trento)
A chemist is not really a chemist (and a hostile public is not really a hostile public)
What do the results of the Royal Society Chemistry survey suggest in terms of public perception of scientists and their social roles? How can science communication build on common sense stereotypes and how can surveys of public perceptions challenge the stereotypes of the public held by scientists and communicators?

Martin W Bauer (Social psychology, LSE)
How special is the public perception of chemistry in the societal conversation of science?
In early 2015, the Royal Society of Chemistry conducted a national survey of public perceptions. Many items used were adapted version from general science attitudes. I will compare responses on items that are similar worded, but replace the word ‘science’ by ‘chemistry’. This comparison should throw some light on how the perception of chemistry differs or not from the perception of science in Britain of 2015.

Author: Enrico Catalano

The main issue of this work is that science communication and science disclosure necessarily involve and include different cultural orientations and interests. There is a substantial body of work showing that cultural differences in values and epistemological frameworks are paralleled with cultural differences reflected in artifacts, customs and public representations. One dimension of cultural difference is the psychological and perceptive distance between humans and the rest of nature.

Another is perspective taking and attention to context and relationships that impact on the perception of science communication. As an example of distance, most (Western) images of ecosystems do not include human beings, and European American discourse tends to position human beings as being apart from nature up to control it. Native American discourse, in contrast, tends to describe humans beings as a part of nature. We have traced the correspondences between cultural properties of media and social networks, focusing on children’s books, and cultural differences in biological cognition.

Finally, implications for both science communication and science education are outlined and clarified.

Author: Angela Cassidy

The Science in Public (SiP) research network provides a central point of contact for anyone involved with or interested in academic research about SiP in the broadest sense. This includes any work which considers relationships between science, technology and medicine; ‘the public’/multiple publics; media and culture; and the broader public sphere. Science in Public fosters cross-disciplinary discussion and debate between researchers across the many fields and disciplines which address these topics, including science communication; science and technology studies; history of science; development, policy, media and cultural studies; and literature and the arts. In 2016 we celebrate our tenth anniversary, having grown out of an ongoing UK based annual conference of the same name. To mark this this and to celebrate the growth of SiP, we are formalising the organisation of the Network, much as PCST did in 2014. Our key aims are: i) To provide long term continuity for the annual Science in Public conference. ii) To give SiP research a more visible online presence via our web portal iii) To facilitate conversations between researchers and practitioners in this area. In this workshop, we invite input from delegates at PCST 2016 about the SiP network and its activities. What can we do for the science communication community in the UK and worldwide? How can we help bridge divisions between research and practice? How should we proceed as an organisation? Last summer, we co-located the PCST Summer School with our annual conference at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Should this interaction continue and how can we improve it? We are also issuing a formal Call for Participants: for people to contribute to SiP as members, Committee members, meeting hosts, website developers and writers, and any other ideas you may have. Please come along to find out more!

Author: Rebecca Carver

Whilst research over the past fifty years has shown there is a link between knowledge and attitudes in science in general, there is little consensus as to whether more knowledge in science leads to more positive or negative attitudes. Previous polls about public understanding of genetics reveal a variety of trends; some have shown that people with higher levels of understanding about genetics also have more opposition towards genetic technologies, whereas other studies showed no relationship between genetic understanding and attitude (Condit 2001). Very little is known about how knowledge and attitudes interact in the realm of genomics. Genomics adopts a more systemic understanding of genetics than earlier genetics, taking into account that environmental and epigenetic factors play a more important role in the development of traits and diseases (Moore 2013; Kendler 2005). Genomic-based technologies such as gene therapy, prenatal genetic testing, personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics are starting to become more relevant for people’s lives. The key questions that shall be addressed in this paper are: 1.How much does the general public know about “modern” concepts and principles within genomics, such as the genome, gene expression, and epigenetics? 2.Is higher knowledge about genomics related to more positive or negative attitudes towards genomic-based technologies? To answer these questions, I will present key finding from the “Public Understanding of Genetics and Genomics Project” (PUGGS project), which is a questionnaire study investigating three components: belief in genetic determinism, knowledge of modern genetics, and attitudes towards modern genomic-based technologies. The project is based in Brazil, where the questionnaire has been developed, piloted and applied to over 400 students at the Federal University of Bahia. The data for this paper was collected in March 2015 and the results will be presented at the conference. Proposed session: ‘Trends in public communication of science and technology’.

Author: César Carrillo-Trueba

As often occurs in any “revolution,” its imminent arrival appears to sweep away all traces of the previous regime, whether in the sphere of politics or in that of science and technology. However, that is never completely true. The French revolution exalted secularism as a core value of the new state, but having taken over government ended up finding popular religious beliefs useful. Something very similar has occurred in the realm of printed media, as the expansion of the worldwide web has appeared to condemn them to disappearance, ushering in a new age in which paper would cease to be used entirely and digital media would reign supreme. At several years’ distance from such a mirage, we find that not only do books and magazines persist, they flourish and coexist harmoniously with their digital counterparts. In fact, the virtual makes the printed visible and alerts a vast audience to new publications, while print media incite readers to go on line to expand their understanding if topics they absorb through paper and ink. Also, as Umberto Eco insightfully observes, the profusion of websites with information of dubious quality makes it essential to exercise criticism in print, like a beacon which helps sailors navigate a turbulent sea, brimming with duplications, falsehoods, and banalities, and helps enhance its value as a resource. The core issue involves the articulation of both worlds, the realization of their complementariness. Based on the experience we have accumulated in the magazine Ciencias, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico -, this lecture analyzes several facets of the debate, which has not yet ended and, due to the accelerated growth of the web, remains highly relevant, while continuing to pose a dilemma for many publications and editors who continue to see a threat to their future in such predictions.

Author: Santiago Nicolas Canete

One of the steps towards closing the gap between science and society consist of involving the scientific community in meaningful interactions with society. In this respect, research measuring actual participation of scientists -key actors in public engagement- and their attitudes towards communicating with non-experts is still developing. This project used a qualitative approach to examine barriers, motivations, and other factors influencing researchers’ view of and participation in public engagement activities. In depth interviews were conducted with scientists who work at a science museum in the United States and who periodically present public talks to visitors, which allowed analyzing the perspective of active engagers. The study identified specific motivations, barriers and other factor’s affecting scientists’ involvement in public communication of science and technology. Results confirmed findings from prior research but also shed light on new elements that scientists consider regarding their participation in PE. For instance, findings from this study suggest that extrinsic factors have stronger influence in scientists’ willingness to participate and actual participation in PE than intrinsic factors. Barriers to PE were predominantly extrinsic, while motivations showed a balance between internal and external factors.