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Science Communication

Effective communication skills enable scientists to engage non-experts, inform public opinion and policymakers, inspire the next generation of scientists and voters, and improve our own research process. UNAVCO provides communication training for our three internship programs, offers on-demand communication training to our community, and develops training materials that can be incorporated into independent curriculum. Our approach focuses on encouraging conversation between scientists and non-experts. The skills practiced can be applied to all channels of communication, from a public or academic lecture to a social media feed.

Portal to the Public

UNAVCO joined the Portal to the Public Network (PoPNet) in March 2016 to offer PoPNet-style hands-on communication training to the geodetic scientific community. Portal to the Public is a tested system of professional development tools designed to better connect scientists and the public in positive dialogue, in informal education settings such as museums. The framework focuses on starting conversations using interactive activities. Portal to the Public was developed by Seattle's Pacific Science Center and their partners, with funding from the National Science Foundation. PoPNet is the network of museums and other institutions implementing PoP training and programs.

Our primary goal with Portal to the Public is to enable meaningful experiences between geoscientists and the public.

UNAVCO began implementing PoP training in summer 2016 with USIP interns and expanded the program to include both USIP and Geo-Launchpad interns in 2017. We have also incorporated PoP elements into workshops at the EarthScope National Meeting, the Earth Educators' Rendezvous, and the IAVCEI meeting.

I loved PoP during my internship! I had such a fun and educational experience with the activities. It was a great way to bond and get to know the other interns as well. I will definitely be bringing my knowledge into teaching and research.
— 2016 Intern


    UNAVCO has developed a suite of worksheets to address the needs of our research interns and other student audiences. These worksheet can be used by individuals or applied in a classroom or workshop setting. They are useful for scientists at all career levels. These materials, as well as other materials on this page, are in constant development and feedback is welcome.

  • But Why? A quick guide to crafting an elevator speech about your research
  • And I Am A quick guide to creating an elevator speech about you and your networking goals
  • Preparing for Your Poster Session A worksheet to help students prepare their poster presentations at scientific meetings
  • Social Media for Science A worksheet to help scientists and communicators plan their social media strategy
  • Main Idea Map A worksheet to help scientists recognize what about their work will connect with their audience
  • Presenting: Science! Tips & Tricks for Communicating Broadly Tips & tricks sheet for giving informal science presentations

Improv for Science Communication

    Improvisational theater games are increasingly valued as effective science communication skill-builders, popularized in part by the Alan Alda Center for Communication Science at Stony Brook University. Improv can help scientists to think more quickly on their feet, connect with their audience, and, perhaps most critically, be better listeners. UNAVCO uses improvisational theater games in our workshops as a way to break tension, build trust, teach communication skills, and have fun with participants.

  • Improvisation Games for Science Communication A few select games for team and skill building

Science Communication Training

    On a case-by-case basis, UNAVCO can provide science communication training and training support to our community. Options include:

    • Training consultation, recommending materials specific to the audience you'd like to train and your goals
    • Remote training session(s) via an online real-time video service
    • On-site training

    Other Resources


      The following opportunties can get you started on communicating your science, regardless of where you are.

    • Skype a Scientist
      Sign up to visit classrooms remotely through the free Skype a Scientist program. Teachers can sign up for free, too.
    • Friends of Joe's Big Idea (FOJBIs)
      A community of young scientists that includes undergrads, graduate students, post docs and faculty interested in improving their science communication skills. The JBI team has begun several initiatives to help FOJBIs become better connected with each other, develop science communication related skills and advise on career development.
    • Massive Science
      Refine your writing skills and get published for a public audience through the online publication Massive Science; check out their training program.
    • The Conversation
      Publish your research for a broad audience through the online publication The Conversation; so long as you are at a research institution, you can sign up to become an author.
    • AAAS Mass Media Fellowship
      Learn modern mass media as a science journalist embedded at a working publication through the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship Program.

    We are happy to consider adding other opportunities to this page. Please email your suggestions to outreach at unavco.org.

Last modified: Monday, 25-Jun-2018 23:07:49 UTC


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