This semester as a professor at Miami Dade College, I decided to design the final class project around using social media where students will have to engage the general public in science. The classes I teach are ESC1000: General Earth Science, PSC1121: General Physical Science, and PSC1515: Energy in the Natural Environment.
Below is a summary of the projects from my students. Please check them out and engage with them on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook in the projects that interest you! Your feedback and perspective will be invaluable to their growth in the project and as learners.
We Need Space Focused on whether Pluto should be a planet and surveyed the general public about their general opinions and knowledge around space.
Classic Rock Impacts, ie. comets, asteroids, and meteoroids. Also check out their public service announcement video. UPDATE: I had tagged Neil deGrasse Tyson when I posted this on my Facebook page. He responded back: “Scientist/Journalist/Educator all rolled into one. -NDTyson” 🙂
Green Smile The psychology of littering.
Multicultural Brains How and why parrots talk.
Geomagnetic Nomads Magnetic reversals: history and predicted impacts on technology and lives. Join the conversation on twitter with #geomagneo.
The Skywalkers Should Pluto be a planet?
Earth Busters Impacts of lionfish: globally, regionally and locally.
Girls in Motion Newton’s Laws and how they affect our everyday life.
Pink Sweaters The electromagnetic energy spectrum and how it affects our everyday lives. Join the conversation on twitter with #mdcpinksweaters.
Team Sound Travel Sound travel in and out of space.
New Sunshine Resources College Weather 101: weather knowledge for life (bilingual).
Perpetual Motion Squad The history and impacts of different parks and green spaces in Miami.
The Ultra Violets The Lion Whisperer, Kevin Richardson, how his work and art helps lion conservation. Join the conversation on twitter with #lionsmdc.
We Got This Local impacts on the Florida Everglades with interviews of local residents.
The Tectonics Informative mock news cast videos on plate tectonics.
Team Weather Watchers Fun facts about weather.
Sistas of Science Puppet show on marine biology, like coral reefs, sharks, etc.
Army Clean Pollution in the state of Florida and how environmental laws are applied in legal cases.
Why social media? Two years ago I discovered I Fucking Love Science (IFLS) on Facebook and started sharing their content with my Facebook community. And then something interesting happened…see many of my former students are on my Facebook, as I shared posts from IFLS I noticed my students were resharing, commenting, or liking the posts. Then I noticed they started following IFLS themselves, and started sharing the posts they found interesting with their Facebook community. And then many went even further and found other sites like Science Alert and Amazing Geologist to get even more science information and news. Now as scientists, I’m sure we all have a few bones to pick with IFLS and others, but it can’t be denied that it creates/maintains interest in science and helps the general public connect to information they would otherwise be unaware of or not understand.
To complete the project groups of students must:
– Pick a science topic (since these are non-science majors I let them pick ANY topic in science, technology, engineering, and math even if it isn’t in-line with the course topic)
– Create something new that hasn’t existed before to help the general public understand their science topic (like videos, infographics, memes, surveys, etc)
The bulk of the project occurs online and they are graded on their creativity, scientific accuracy, and engagement with the public (here is the rubric I gave the students). At the end of the project they will also give a presentation in class where they will share their videos, infographics, memes, etc. I encourage students to use their own voice while being informative.
Even though as scientists many of you may not be considered “the general public” but I have been pleasantly surprised at the creativity of the students. Don’t forget to comment and engage!