8

Workshop Wrap-up Session

“Don’t get caught needing a translator!”
–Nancy Blount

Four workshop participants, Joy Moore of Seed Media, David Ucko from the National Science Foundation, Nancy Blount with the American Chemical Society, and Mark Barteau at the University of Delaware were asked to provide closing comments. Chosen for their diverse perspectives, each panelist discussed what they heard during the workshop and what some next steps might be. The panel comments were followed by an open discussion period where all workshop participants were given the opportunity to respond to the panelists and raise additional issues brought up during the workshop.

BRIDGING THE COMMUNICATION GAP

Joy Moore was struck by the gap between public understanding of chemistry and the ability or inability of chemists to explain what they do. She said that the most successful examples of overcoming this gap occur when chemistry is related to things in daily life, such as a museum exhibit, and when scientists explain what they do in their own words, as is done in science blogging.

Another take-away message was the need to highlight the chemistry behind larger societal problems. There are also various ways to present information to children, such as video games, museum exhibits, and activities on the Internet, and parents may need to be made more aware of the resources for informal learning outside of school.

STRATEGIC PLANNING

David Ucko suggested that developing a strategic plan could help focus the goals for communicating chemistry. It was not clear to him if the goal is learning, public relations, advocacy, or some combination of all three. At the same time, he pointed out that this topic is not new. Efforts to expose more people to chemistry have been highlighted on several occasions in the past. For example, an American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Public Understanding of Chemistry wrote a report published in 1971 titled Chemistry for Citizens.1 Various efforts followed. Chemist Richard Zare, as Chair of the National Science Board, wrote an article in 1996 titled “Where Is the Chemistry in Science Museums?”2

Chemists have been wrestling with this topic for a long time. Those who want to pursue informal educational activities in chemistry could look to the evidence base that has been gathered since those earlier efforts and the lessons that have been learned. Ucko said it would be useful for someone to do a synthesis of the lessons learned from these past efforts, such as from the research that the National Science Foundation (NSF) and others have funded on learning chemistry. He said that most of it has probably been on the formal side, but there are some valuable lessons to be learned.

TAKING CHEMISTRY TO THE STREETS

Nancy Blount, American Chemical Society, pointed out that there so many audiences to reach and all have different needs. There is also so much that is unknown about how best to reach those audiences. She heard a lot of people at the workshop speak about the challenges of getting chemistry to the forefront of people’s minds, from the invisible to the visible. She said when chemistry gets to the point of being visible, it often crosses a line where it becomes the prize of

__________

1For more information, see R.L. Wolfgang.1971. Chemistry for citizens. Journal of Chemical Education 4 (1): 22.

2R. Zare. 1996. Where is the Chemistry in Science Museums? Journal of Chemical Education. 73:A198. Available online at http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/journal/issues/1996/sep/absA198.html (accessed April 12, 2011).



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 65
8 Workshop Wrap-up Session “Don’t get caught needing a translator!” –Nancy Blount Four workshop participants, Joy Moore of Seed Media, to expose more people to chemistry have been highlighted David Ucko from the National Science Foundation, Nancy on several occasions in the past. For example, an American Blount with the American Chemical Society, and Mark Bar- Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Public Understand- teau at the University of Delaware were asked to provide ing of Chemistry wrote a report published in 1971 titled Chemistry for Citizens.1 Various efforts followed. Chemist closing comments. Chosen for their diverse perspectives, each panelist discussed what they heard during the workshop Richard Zare, as Chair of the National Science Board, wrote and what some next steps might be. The panel comments an article in 1996 titled “Where Is the Chemistry in Science Museums?”2 were followed by an open discussion period where all work- shop participants were given the opportunity to respond to Chemists have been wrestling with this topic for a long the panelists and raise additional issues brought up during time. Those who want to pursue informal educational activi- the workshop. ties in chemistry could look to the evidence base that has been gathered since those earlier efforts and the lessons that have been learned. Ucko said it would be useful for some- BRIDGING THE COMMUNICATION GAP one to do a synthesis of the lessons learned from these past Joy Moore was struck by the gap between public under- efforts, such as from the research that the National Science standing of chemistry and the ability or inability of chemists Foundation (NSF) and others have funded on learning chem- to explain what they do. She said that the most successful istry. He said that most of it has probably been on the formal examples of overcoming this gap occur when chemistry is side, but there are some valuable lessons to be learned. related to things in daily life, such as a museum exhibit, and when scientists explain what they do in their own words, as TAKING CHEMISTRY TO THE STREETS is done in science blogging. Another take-away message was the need to highlight Nancy Blount, American Chemical Society, pointed out the chemistry behind larger societal problems. There are that there so many audiences to reach and all have different also various ways to present information to children, such as needs. There is also so much that is unknown about how best video games, museum exhibits, and activities on the Internet, to reach those audiences. She heard a lot of people at the and parents may need to be made more aware of the resources workshop speak about the challenges of getting chemistry for informal learning outside of school. to the forefront of people’s minds, from the invisible to the visible. She said when chemistry gets to the point of being visible, it often crosses a line where it becomes the prize of STRATEGIC PLANNING David Ucko suggested that developing a strategic plan 1For more information, see R.L. Wolfgang.1971. Chemistry for citizens. could help focus the goals for communicating chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education 4 (1): 22. It was not clear to him if the goal is learning, public rela- 2R. Zare. 1996. Where is the Chemistry in Science Museums? Journal tions, advocacy, or some combination of all three. At the of Chemical Education. 73:A198. Available online at http://jchemed.chem. same time, he pointed out that this topic is not new. Efforts wisc.edu/journal/issues/1996/sep/absA198.html (accessed April 12, 2011). 65

OCR for page 65
66 CHEMISTRY IN PRIMETIME AND ONLINE another discipline, such as medicine, materials, or maybe talking keep viewers interested. Barteau added, “We need to electronics, but not chemistry. think about the hook and how we bait it. And again, I think Blount also talked about the public perception of science. there are lots of opportunities for creativity there.” While data from Pew Research suggest people respect scien- The fourth theme Barteau pointed out was about tailor- tists, she said they really do not understand what scientists ing the message to suit the type of audience. For example, do, or some of the most basic facts about science. She added, it was said in the workshop that the audience for museums “Obviously there is that big disconnect that invites us to step is already self-selected or predisposed toward science and in and do something about it.” learning, so that audience will respond to a different level of Blount talked about the approaches needed to address communication than that required for TV viewers. this. She said efforts are needed at all levels from individuals T he last theme Barteau discussed was about the engaging one on one, or through organizations such as ACS messengers—chemical professionals. Barteau said the aca- local sections, museums, and libraries. There are also many demic community is “waking up to the idea of the need to opportunities through media sources, including newspapers, mentor our students and their professional careers.” Funding books, movies, television, radio, the Internet, and games. agencies are also putting more pressure on faculty to improve However, there is a lot that is unknown about what works how they mentor their students. However, he thinks faculty best—what people really relate to and what has impact. are not well equipped to do this. For them, “mentoring means At the most basic level though, Blount pointed out that how to write a proposal, how to write a scientific paper, everyone has a story to tell and plenty of opportunities to tell how to give a talk at an ACS meeting.” It does not typically it—whether it’s at a barbeque, a wedding, a graduation, or a involve how to talk to the press or a boss when there are only family reunion. She advised, “Somebody is going to ask you 5 minutes available. He added that the biggest challenge in what you do. Don’t get caught needing a translator.” Instead improving communications training for scientists and engi- chemists need to be prepared to discuss the work they do neers is finding qualified people in the universities to do it. and why they do it. In addition, Blount said, “Think about this opportunity. OPEN DISCUSSION 7 . . . When you talk to somebody one on one you have their attention.” However, when people browse websites, it is Do Chemists Need to Get Out More? more difficult to know how much time they spend on it or what kind of message they get from it. “But when you get Bill Carroll highlighted something Deborah Illman their attention, take advantage of it and be ready to tell them discussed in her presentation earlier in the day. Most of something that is going to be meaningful to them about her graduate students (in the sciences) admitted they have chemistry,” Blount added. essentially no, or very little, contact with nonscientists on a daily basis. Carroll posed the question, “Do chemists need to get out more?” Nancy Blount responded that she was THE MESSAGE, MEDIUM, HOOK, AUDIENCE, AND astounded by Illman’s findings, and thinks students need to MESSENGERS be motivated by their professors to think about more than Mark Barteau, University of Delaware, outlined five just research activities. crosscutting themes he heard. The first is the message. He Ucko said that the human side of science is often missing. said, “I think the message we should be sending is we change He thinks it would be helpful to show more of the human the way people live, and go from there.” side in both the formal and the informal science learning The second theme is about the medium. He said he came environments. to the workshop expecting to hear a lot about new media and A t the same time, there have been successes. For creative and innovative approaches, which he did. However, example, Bill Carroll noted that scienceblogs.com seems he heard more about how clever people will adapt quickly to do a good job finding articulate and funny scientists who to these new media. comment online, and asked Joy Moore about where she The third theme is the need for a hook to grab the attention finds them. Moore said the blogosphere draws writers to of a reader, viewer, or museum visitor. Barteau worries that in the website, and “allows people who are good communica- the quest for relevance, the message becomes a little bland. tors and who have a personality that goes along with their For example, he highlighted the success of the TV show Myth research to make themselves known and then gain their Busters and how both kids and adults enjoy seeing things own audiences.” This visibility shows other scientists that blown up on the show. At the same time, he noted that Martyn science blogging is okay, and the interaction between the Poliakoff finds the videos of himself talking about the chem- bloggers and the readers opens up a dialogue. She added, istry of a candle just as popular as the videos of him blowing “We know that there are cool, interesting human beings out things up. Poliakoff thinks those videos are more visual and there doing research, and we just need to get that message exciting, hooking his audience, whereas the videos of him out to the public more.”

OCR for page 65
67 WORKSHOP WRAP-UP SESSION Bill Carroll asked Mark Barteau, from his position in of episodes of the show trying to catch Alex Mack because academia, to comment on whether there is a need for a she was violating the security of his chemical company. Alex “communications competency requirement particularly in a Mack’s parents worked for the chemical company, but they graduate program?” were totally unaware of what was going on. Gussman said if that is the image of chemistry,4 what can be done to dig out Barteau said that as a department chair, he cannot remem- ber an industrial advisory board meeting of his department of that hole and overcome the negative stereotypes? that did not involve a discussion about the communications Ruth Woodall highlighted Bill Nye the Science Guy as a deficiencies of their students. He responded yes to Carroll’s positive image for science in the public media. He was on question, but also emphasized the need to make it fun and CNN the previous night talking about possible solutions for cleaning up the BP oil spill.5 She said that he was a very interesting. He said “Running [students] through a required communications or technical writing course may not be the useful resource when she was a science teacher. Kids really way to go.” On the other hand, his university has an NSF enjoyed watching him. She called him her hero, because of Integrative Graduate Education, Research, and Training the ability he has to connect with people of all ages. program, and the students are the ones driving the outreach Joy Moore responded to the comment about Alex Mack to the community. He said it would be useful to systematize that the perception of industry versus academic scientists the outreach or at least collect information about it in a way is a real problem. She said, “There is a huge, immediate that would be valuable to others and spawn more imitation. distrust of scientists who work for companies, as opposed to Bill Carroll said he thinks there is a convergence between scientists who work for academia. And it is just obviously Deborah Illman’s thoughts and the ACS Chemistry Ambas- unfair and wrong.” sador’s approach. That is, it is important to get to say what Jim Solyst then posed the question, “How do you take is most important first, rather than burying it somewhere in creative people who are in communications and give them the article or conversation. the necessary guidance or education to do it a bit better than Nancy Blount added that when scientists talk about their what we see on Alex Mack?” research, they tend to focus on giving all the background Mark Barteau responded, “One of the problems is figur- technical details first, which turns most nonscientists off. ing out how to do that without putting them through a 4-year She reiterated, “What we all have in common is we are all bachelor’s degree.” He said that one thing they did at Dela- people.” It can be much more impactful for the scientists to ware recently was hold an energy workshop for the media. start with the human side of the story—who are they? Where They discussed “key things you need to have in mind, and do they come from? How did they get interested in science a few questions you ought to ask everybody, whether they and their particular area of research? “Each one of us is the are selling clean coal or wind power. Just here are the key human side of some story.” questions you should always ask.” In today’s age, however, the attention span of most people Steve Lyons then highlighted a couple of resources to is short, so “you need to have a really short sound bite that follow up on the idea of bringing creative people (who are is going to hook them and get their attention, and give them not chemists) in to help communicate chemistry. He said that a chance to ask you more.” the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has a science-writing program for journalists and scientists. Lyons participated in a science-writing program Overcoming Negative Stereotypes on TV called the Macy Fellowship in Science Broadcast Journal- Many participants discussed their dissatisfaction with ism. He said, “The idea was to take people who had already how chemists and chemistry are shown on TV. For example, written about science, either articles or books, and train them Neil Gussman, from the Chemical Heritage Foundation in broadcasting. They brought us to Boston and trained us in (CHF), commented on how his daughters’ views of chem- radio and film and television for a year, and then sort of set istry are strongly affected by the Nickelodeon television us free and saw what we could do.” show they watched in the late 1990s called The Secret Life Lyons said, “It might be possible to develop a fellowship of Alex Mack 3 which painted a very negative and unrealistic in chemistry communication that is similar to that—that picture of chemicals and chemical industry. In the show, an takes creative people who have shown expertise or flair in unmarked truck from a chemical company spills an unnamed some kind of communication field and bring them to a central brown liquid on a girl in junior high named Alex Mack. The brown liquid gives Mack the ability to turn into a puddle of mercury at will. The villain of the show was a security guard at the chemical company, who spent the four years’ worth 4In this document, chemistry is defined as the science of composition, structure, and properties of substances (chemicals) and the changes they undergo. 3For more information, see the Internet Movie Database at http://www. 5For more information, see www.usgs.gov/oilspill/ (accessed December imdb.com/title/tt0108921/ (accessed April 13, 2011). 2, 2010).

OCR for page 65
68 CHEMISTRY IN PRIMETIME AND ONLINE location and train them in how to communicate chemistry Scientists tend to focus on providing all the details and being and send them out into the world.” very accurate. They are not comfortable with generalizing or Jim Solyst thought that was an excellent idea, and sug- leaving out important details. Sometimes at her lab they bring gested that Mark Grieps’s work on movies and the examples in technical writers to help communicate research results he showed in the workshop would be great resources for to general audiences. She said, “The technical writers do a reaching out to screenwriters, to show them how science great job, and then the scientists [say] yes but, and then they and chemistry can work on the screen. If screenwriters can start adding detail. Pretty soon you take an article that was a be convinced that people are interested in subjects such as fun 2-page article, and by the time we get all the detail that chemistry when presented in an interesting and compelling makes it absolutely correct from the scientific point of view way, more movies with chemistry content might be made. it is 10 pages and nobody wants to read it.” Jeannette Brown shared one idea she implemented in the Baisden asked about how to bridge the gap between the past to increase coverage of chemistry in the media. She two: “How do we talk about what we do in a way that it said that in her role as a publicity person for her ACS local may not be absolutely correct and have all the details, but it section, she invited a reporter to attend a talk at one of the gets the point across, it gets the interest across?” She asked regular local section meetings for background material on a Deborah Illman, “When you got the technical writer talking hot political topic. She has also learned ways to communicate to the scientists, how do you get them so the technical guy chemistry effectively as a member of the Science Writers will kind of let up a little and the technical writer will give organization. She suggested that maybe the ACS could do in a little, and you end up with a good product?” a session on chemistry at the Science Writer’s Conference. Illman responded that it is helpful to sensitize scientists to the needs of broader audiences, through the types of activities she does in her course. She believes it is valuable to provide Writing for Life some training on communicating to broader audiences in Deborah Illman commented that one of the things she has undergraduate and graduate courses, even if it involves just observed about existing communication and writing train- a few credits. The training would be useful to the students ing for undergraduate chemistry students in the universities in many settings, including outreach to museums, in the across the country is the focus on writing lab reports and policy arena, and in industry, to management. It would be term papers. She has tried to interest people in something she beneficial for students to be instructed in writing for life and calls “writing for life,” which involves writing for learning in general audiences, instead of simply learning how to write informal and formal environments, such as communicating term papers. science to policy makers, journalists, the PTA, or the neigh- bor next door. She has not had success conveying that mes- Tolerable Level of Inaccuracy sage though. She said, “I think that on a national scale, with a call for preparation for chemists and scientists generally to Bob Hone commented that “science museums and the communicate with broader audiences, and a requirement of people who work in science museums interact with the public funders for grant recipients to show how they are going to directly, so they have a really clear idea of what is going to do that, I think we have to mount a major national campaign work and what is not going to work.” He said when work- to reach into the undergraduate curriculum and the graduate ing on a project for a science museum, they talk about what curriculum and provide some major resources and guidance, they call “the tolerable level of inaccuracy.” As concepts are and to give it a priority for these kinds of communication simplified, at some level it will end up being inaccurate to a genres in writing for life.” scientist. He said it is necessary to think about the duration of David Ucko responded that “I just want to remind people the experience the person is going to have with the content. that this is just one piece of this huge puzzle that we are It may only be few minutes, which is not a lot of time to dealing with here, this tapestry or web or ecology of lifelong convey all the details. learning.” In addition to thinking about the professional David Ucko agreed with Hone. He emphasized that there development of scientists and the professional development are people who are experts in being intermediaries between of media, it would be beneficial to also create regional col- the public, the science, and the scientists; that is what educa - laborations to connect all the different pieces, so that they tors in the science museums and many other informal learn- can support each other, provide a structure to bring in others, ing spheres do for a living. He strongly encourages scientists and reach some common outcomes. to interact with those people to learn from their knowledge Trish Baisden described how she recently spent 3 years in and experience. Washington, D.C., on an assignment and had to learn really Cathy Conrad from St. Mary’s University commented that quickly how to talk to people there, because they only had a there is a lot of interesting discussion going on about how short amount of time to listen. She noted that this is very dif- “the medium is the message”; that the content and key ideas ferent from what was expected during her scientific training. are influenced by the communications media such as video,

OCR for page 65
69 WORKSHOP WRAP-UP SESSION radio, museums, and so forth. However, she said there is still recap of what their work was about, a simulated radio inter- a need to have a fundamental message, idea, or concept that view. For example, a couple of the students were working on is independent from the media. It was not clear to her, from solar cells, but solar energy never came out in the interview. the discussions at this workshop, what exactly those are for Instead the students focused on the details of what they were chemistry. doing. She noted that a high level view needs to be given to Nancy Blount shared some thoughts from the perspective provide a common level of understanding and connection of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She said that the with the other person. The students may not solve solar ACS vision is “improving people’s lives through the trans- energy today, but the work they do may contribute towards forming power of chemistry.”ACS tries to integrate that into that goal. a lot of its literature and speeches. ACS also emphasizes that Jeanette Brown said that one theme of National Chemistry chemists are problem solvers and that chemistry is solving Week was putting a “face on chemistry.” She also highlighted global challenges. This provides a platform to talk about the importance of participating in street festivals and com- important topics such as climate, clean water, and sufficient munity events, where chemists can make that human connec- food supplies. tion. She said, “I am really going to go back now and try to Ucko commented that in the case of learning, the message get my whole executive committee to go out and spend an and the approach needed may be very different. For example, hour on a street fair talking to the public there and putting a it depends where the person is and what he or she is interested face on chemistry. These are people who have children, they in. He provided a website created by the Exploratorium6 have families, they live in your community, et cetera—that called The Accidental Scientist,7 which focuses on the sci- is the chemistry ambassador program.” ence of cooking. The museum does not rely on people going Steve Lyons said that he is a member of the AAAS Com- to the Exploratorium to find that site, but rather on people mittee on Public Understanding of Science, and one of the finding it through a cooking site. The link to the website topics its members have talked quite a bit about in the last is located on many cooking sites, because people who are couple of years is the idea that reaching out to the public interested in cooking gravitate to those types of websites. is something that is actively discouraged by the scientific Then they can find the information on the science behind community and, if you try to do it, you are jeopardizing your the cooking if they are interested. Ucko described it as a career. He said, “I just wonder if the assembled chemists backdoor into the science. There is not a particular message, here could confirm whether that, in fact, is a problem in the but it is providing the science as needed when people are chemistry community.” most interested. Nancy Blount noted that it is not completely true—for Teresa Fryberger commented that she agreed with the example ACS actively encourages and supports many chem- comment about the message that “we really need to think ists who engage in community outreach, such as National about why we are communicating, and who we need to Lab Day in 2010, Earth Day, and National Chemistry Week. communicate to.” Having a strategy is important, because At National Lab Day last year (the first year it was held), 600 there are so many messages to communicate and so many people identified themselves as chemists and participated in audiences to communicate to. outreach. Mark Barteau stated that one of the hardest things to Deborah Illman commented on the culture that discour- teach students and young faculty is how to explain research ages public communication of science. She said, “Over the results as they seek research funding from sources such as the years, I have had many science graduate students come to National Science Foundation or the Dreyfus Foundation. He take my science writing classes, and in a hushed tone they said, “You don’t start with: I’m doing great stuff you should whispered to me, ‘Don’t tell my adviser I am taking this give me money.” Instead, they should focus on “I’m doing class.’ It is perceived as a distraction, it is perceived as a great stuff that is really important to something you care waste of an investigator’s effort to be training a grad student about, and this is what I can do and this is why you should to divert their attention to public communication of science give me money. You would be surprised at how bad we are instead of becoming the clone that goes into a strictly aca- at getting that message across,” added Barteau. demic career.” Blount agreed with Barteau’s remarks. She said ACS “I have encountered this time and time again,” Illman works with individuals to help them with their elevator said. “I am reminded of a New Yorker cartoon that came out, speeches, such as working with Illman’s students in the I think in 1977, where two people who look like old tenants writing workshop. Students were asked to give a 90-second [are] sitting in what looks like Bagley Hall on my campus, the chemistry building before it was remodeled. And one of them is saying to the other, ‘One of the things I will say for us, at least we never stooped to popularizing science.’” 6For more information, see www.exploratorium.edu/ (accessed January She ended, “The sentiment is alive and well at least at my 16, 2011). 7For more information, see www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/ (accessed university.” January 16, 2011).

OCR for page 65
70 CHEMISTRY IN PRIMETIME AND ONLINE Steve Lyons commented: “Maybe part of the solution trained, we don’t have the tools. Therefore we try to avoid it is to try to address changing the culture and encouraging at all costs. It is a distraction; it keeps us from doing things.” outreach instead of discouraging it. It is perhaps something She cautioned that sometimes talking to the press can also the Dreyfus Foundation or some other funder might want cause more harm than good. For example, in the 1980s to support.” He asked David Ucko to comment on how the there was a big announcement about the discovery of cold National Science Foundation is encouraging change through fusion, and the discovery turned out to be false. She said, its funding policies of this kind of outreach. “We announced cold fusion; only to really look stupid.” This Ucko said the Communicating Research to Public Audi- has instilled fear in doing a press release. Instead, chemists ences program8 that he mentioned the previous day is specifi- tend to want to have their results peer reviewed and in the cally geared toward doing that. The program provides awards scientific literature a while before announcing the results to practicing scientists who have an active NSF research more broadly. grant. He said it provides up to $200,000 to do some kind of Joel Rosenberg from Lawrence Hall of Science agreed activity geared to the public, such as working with a museum that more needs to be done to prepare future faculty to be on an exhibit, or doing some media project. He said that it better communicators with the public. He said, “Chemis- is specifically designed to communicate research to public try becomes unpalatable to so many people because it is audiences. abstract.” It tends to be too focused on balancing equations Ucko also said that the NSF Office of Legislative and rather than practical problem solving. Public Affairs holds workshops across the country for sci- Rosenberg added this is not unique to chemistry though. entists, to encourage them to assess other channels—to take He said, “I work in the informal [education] world mostly, videos that scientists produce and other kinds of communi- and there is also a failure in the informal world to want to take cation pieces and put them on a national stage. Ucko said on real problem solving.” For example, science museums NSF overall, and the Informal Science Education division in tend to avoid more controversial topics. They want to stay particular, work very hard on that. neutral. They will say, “Here is the black lung, we are not Barteau commented how he and many others were saying don’t smoke, we are just saying look at it and make brought up with the idea that the publication by press release your own decision.” Similarly, for chemists it seems that was not appropriate. He said part of the issue today is just the they want to say, “Here is a description of a problem, but we pressure on faculty time to write proposals and seek research are not saying what you should do about it.” He thinks that funding. Barteau also noted that the well-intentioned NSF results in chemistry being blamed for the problem, instead broader-impact criterion has resulted in “forced outreach of being part of the solution. without resources assistance or accountability.” Another Patricia Thiel from Iowa State University ended the dis- issue is the charlatans, or the scientists who oversell their cussion on a more positive note. She has two teenage daugh- research results. He said, “It is a multidimensional problem. ters in high school, who are both interested in science, and But in general if we could get more responsible adults com- she sees the teachers in her kids’ high school making a lot of municating more effectively with appropriate support and effort to incorporate presentations and writing requirements guidance and training to do that, that would be good.” into classes. She also sees her colleagues on the faculty of Trish Baisden agreed. She said, “We [chemists] are the university making significant efforts to do that as well. uncomfortable talking to the press because we are not While there is certainly room for improvement, she said many educators are putting in the effort to improve the com- munication skills of their students. 8For more information, see www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_ id=5362 (accessed June 6, 2011). NOTE: This program has been archived.