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Return to Professional Development for Research and Career Planning

Why Outreach

Why should busy graduate students or faculty take time to teach the public about their science? The are altruistic motives as well as self serving.

  • Public understanding of science increases friendliness to science research funding and funds for higher education.
  • K-12 students benefit from seeing real scientists and this can motivate them to consider stem careers even from an early age.
  • Public communication is an important skill as your career progresses.
  • NSF grants explicitly require a broader impacts statement in which you demonstrate how your research will lead to an advancement of science in general. Education outreach is a natural response for this.
  • Early career awards and tenure reviews also look at your public service and outreach record.

Outreach Venues

As you look at outreach opportunities its worth thinking about the both the depth and breadth of your potential impact.

  • A single classroom visit may capture one student's attention, but a sustained series of visits or working with students on projects have a much larger impact.
  • A video, website or museum exhibit might have little impact but could be viewed by thousands of people.
  • Special expos, fairs or open houses attract lots of interested people and it is important to be flexible and adaptable in you response to visitor. Consider age, science background and immediate interest level.

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