You’ve made the decision to talk with non-scientists about what you do. Great! But where do you start? Below we’ve provided some examples of the types of opportunities that you may want to pursue.
Give a Presentation:
This is one of the best ways to get your work out there. See our guide to giving a presentation to public audiences.
Other Ways to Reach Out:
- Be a science fair judge. Middle and high schools especially are always looking for science experts to act as judges for science fairs. Reach out to local schools by letting them know who you are, what you do, and that you’d be interested in being a fair judge whenever possible.
- Participate in a career day. How does one become a scientist? What do scientists actually do? Participating in a career day is a great way to not only spread your message but potentially inspire future generations to follow in your footsteps.
- Be a tutor. As an academic, teaching is a huge part of your job. However, you likely rarely get one-on-one opportunities to really interact with your students. Acting as a tutor will allow you impart your knowledge in a way that could truly make a difference to a student in need while really being able to see the fruits of your labor.
- Participate in local scientific mentorship programs. Some cities have independent science mentoring programs who are always looking for scientists to act as mentors (e.g. National Council for Science and the Environment: EnvironMentors, American Museum of Natural History: Science Research Mentoring Program). This is a great opportunity to work with future generations of scientists.
- Tell a science story. Ever thought about telling a science story without a PowerPoint? Organizations like Story Collider bring together scientists and non-scientists alike to talk about science in an informal setting in an entertaining format. Many cities also have local types of organizations that do this type of work (e.g. D.C. Science Comedy, Nerd Nite).
- Facilitate a science book/popular science article discussion. Book review clubs are a fun way to get together with friends/peers while also learning something new. Try to facilitate this with a science twist!
- Visit your legislator. You can make the trip to D.C. or simply visit your local or state legislator. Let them know who you are, what you do, and why it matters to them.
- Call/write your legislator. Don’t have time to visit? Give them a call. Writer them a letter. They represent you; let them know why what you do matters.
- Tweet your legislator. Politicians are increasingly responsive on social media. Send your Representative or Senator a tweet about a science issue that is important to you.
- Invite your legislator to your university/lab. Established a dialogue with your legislator? Great! Why not invite them to come see where you work and how you do your research.
- Visit our Policy Action Center for more tips and suggestions on interacting with legislators.
- Be a docent at a museum. A good way to establish a relationship with an organization such as museum it to volunteer there first. This will allow you to see what type of patrons visit the museum and determine what types of programs in which you could participate.
- Volunteer at a nature center. Similar to a museum, nature centers are perfect partners to allow you to reach a broader audience and essentially get a feel for a potential audience.
- Give a lab tour. No matter the group, bringing them into the lab allows them to see “where the magic happens”. It also likely will allow them to shed the notion of uptight, white-coated scientists and really see that scientists are normal people (with an awesome career).
- Take it to the field. Have a neat field site? Show the public! Field trips not only allow audiences to learn about what you do but also get individuals outdoors.