Science communication training at the Europlanet Summer School 2017

Science communication training at the Europlanet Summer School 2017, Molėtai Astronomical Observatory, Lithuania.

Instead of organising a stand-alone science communication training workshop in 2017, Europlanet’s outreach activity joined forces with its science networking activity to run the 2017 Europlanet Summer School “Space missions: ground-based observations and science communication” from 18-28 July at the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory in Lithuania.

The innovative programme for the summer school aimed to equip young researchers and amateur astronomers with skills in observational astronomy and in science communication. Students received practical training on making spectroscopic observations of the chemical composition of stars and photometric detections of stellar variability and exoplanet transits. Afternoon sessions included a wide range of science communication training, including:

Practical exercises included a sixty second ‘elevator pitch’ on the relevance of each student’s research to society, drafting a press release, developing an educational activity on the platform for teachers, mind-mapping a public engagement activity on the theme of Planetary Sciences & Climate Change, making a sixty-second video or a social media story.

The final session of the science communication training introduced evaluation procedures and included brainstorming in small groups on projects, strategies and/or key issues for

  1. the visibility of planetary science
  2. the relevance of astronomy to citizens’ lives
  3. addressing topical issues and controversies
  4. widening participation to engage different communities with planetary science.

The 21 students (11 female, 10 male) from 13 countries (Azerbaijan, Croatia, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Ukraine and UK) included amateur astronomers and young scientists ranging from post-docs to final-year school students.

A press release written by students about the Europlanet Summer School was published on the Lithuanian news website.

Summary of evaluation from students