NCSCE Washington Symposium Showcases Projects and Partnerships for the Public Understanding of Science

On Thursday and Friday, March 15th and 16th, 25 members of the NCSCE community convened at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the 2018 NCSCE Washington Symposium and Poster Session. The focus of the meeting was to highlight the ways in which members of our community are advancing the public understanding of science.


The meeting began with a presentation from Dan Kahan of the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University, “Science Comprehension Without Curiosity is No Virtue, and Curiosity Without Comprehension No Vice.” The presentation focused on existing research showing that science literacy is correlated with political polarization, and new research that suggests  curiosity about science had a mitigating effect on this tendency to polarization. Dan’s presentation was followed by Emily Therese Cloyd of AAAS, who provided an overview of the programs at AAAS that build capacity for the communication of science and public engagement among scientists.


The first day ended with a reception and a poster session where participants shared some of their on-campus projects. The projects and programs represented by posters were AAAS’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), Hiram College’s Near Peer Mentor program, Middle Tennessee State University’s Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity (URECA) project, Seattle University’s Youth Initiative, the University of Maryland’s program integrating computational thinking into Elementary Science Teacher Education via citizen science, and William Paterson University’s partnership with Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park for geoscience literacy.


The highlight of this year’s meeting were presentations from faculty and students who were improving STEM learning and advancing the public understanding of science through their collaborative projects.


Friday’s presentations began by addressing the ways in which higher education institutions, faculty, and students are using National Park Service sites for a range of innovative projects. The panel, led by Tim Watkins, the Science Access & Engagement Coordinator at National Park Service, showcased several  partnerships, representing Hiram College, University of Minnesota, University of Maine, William Paterson University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute . The projects, which were structured as both curricular, and co-curricular collaborations were based in National Park Service sites throughout the US, from Maine to Colorado and represented a range of research foci, with clear benefits for all the collaborators, including NPS and their interpretive staffs, park audiences, and the students and faculty.  In the discussion that followed participants reflected on how these collaborative, site-based models that could be extended to other courses, institutions, and sites.


Next, a team from the University of Texas, El Paso explained how CUREs (Course-based undergraduate research experiences) can advance civic engagement, professional preparation, grit, and science-process skills.  Student research focused on health disparities generated valuable information for the residents and fostered a sustainable campus-community partnership.


The afternoon of the last day consisted of presentations about the NCSCE’s ongoing work in informal science education and the AAAS’s efforts to advance an inclusive and productive public discussion of scientific knowledge among people in faith-based communities.


The networking and discussions among presenters and general participants generated a number of potential collaborations and partnerships that NCSCE pursue and support through follow-up conversations and future convenings.


The full program book, including descriptions of the sessions and posters is available at the Washington Symposium Website. The website will also be updated to include links to selected presentations.

Posted in eNews, Meeting News, SENCER News.