Science Online New York (SoNYC) encourages audience participation in the discussion of how science is carried out and communicated online. To tie in with June’s event which looks at how scientists reach out of the ivory tower, communicating science to the public, we’re hosting a series of guest posts on the nature.com blogs. We will hear from a range of contributors: scientists, writers, enthusiasts, communicators, events organizers, policy makers and teachers, each sharing details about how they engage and reach out to the public.
Rachel Scheer is the Corporate Public Relations Manager for Nature Publishing Group. She handles the PR efforts for Scientific American including writing press releases, facilitating partnerships and organizing media opportunities for the editorial team.
American students are now ranked 22nd and 31st among their international peers in science and math, respectively. This statistic prompted Scientific American’s Editor in Chief, Mariette DiChristina to think about what can be done to boost the performance of U.S. students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. One idea was to launch the 1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days initiative with the simple goal of connecting science teachers with scientist volunteers who are willing to visit the classroom and talk about their work firsthand.
In November, I was able to sit-in on a 1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days match— a visit by microbiologist Benjamin TenOever to the Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in Chelsea, New York. This visit was also filmed by NY1 and captured in the video, Chelsea Students Change Their Scientific Perceptions.
TenOever used slide-shows which he made solely for the visits and an interactive experiment to illustrate how easily viruses spread. The students were captivated.
“To be shown how quick it just spreads is amazing,” said student Jade Rigos. “My research last year on viruses wasn’t really clear as I wanted it to be but this was just beyond what I expected.”
For his part, TenOever really enjoyed going back to school and was hopeful that he might have inspired some of the students in the class to pursue science as a career.
“A nation full of scientists is a better nation and I think that a goal to inspire more high school students to become scientists is a really noble goal,” TenOever said.
Since its launch in May 2011, the response from scientists to the program has been overwhelming, with more than 1,000 scientists volunteering in only 62 days, including 49 of the 50 states in the nation. Today, there are over 1,500 scientists and 500 educators who have signed up to use the service.
Teachers and schools can register online for Scientific American’s service to match them with scientist volunteers. Teachers can search for scientists based on geographic proximity, field of study and discipline. There is both a sign-up form for scientists and a registration form for teachers on Scientific American’s website: scientificamerican.com/education.
1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days is one of a number of education initiatives from Scientific American, as part of its Change the Equation commitment. In September 2010, Nature Publishing Group (NPG), Scientific American’s parent organization, joined Change the Equation, a CEO-led public-private partnership to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) literacy in the United States.