We live in an amazing world. One that, if given the chance, will never cease to amaze or astonish you. No matter where you come from, who you are, or who you want to be, planet Earth is the place to be. From magical woodlands to dense tropical forests, and the highest mountain peaks; Earth is a varied, and dramatic place.
For many of us, there is this interest, an interest to understand the world around us. Some of us do this with our five senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Others of us, just as validly try to figure out the mysteries of the universe and Earth through prayer, or communion with whom they believe to be a higher power.
It is hard to go wrong when it comes to discovery, as long as you are not harming another living thing, then the world is your oyster. For as long as modern humans have been on this planet, which as far as scientists can tell is around 300,000 years, we have been wondering not only about the world we found ourselves in, but about ourselves too; beginning to answer questions about where we came from, and why we seemed to set apart from nature.
Whether you find your answers or just more questions, there are some ways in which we can go about exploring the natural world around us. Today we will be talking about the scientific approach, the more modern and unbiased approach. We need to be able to answer the questions that plague our society today, those surrounding climate change, famine, and wealth disparities, in fact, we are even facing a sixth great extinction event. We need now to be more prepared and educated on the world around us than ever before.
Today we will be discussing just what SciComm is, why it is important, how to start practicing it, and why you should. Now is the time, there may not be many more tomorrows if we do nothing. But, as famous primatologist and naturalist Jane Goodall always likes to point out; there is always hope, and each of us can play even just a small role in turning the world around.
So what actually is SciComm now that I have mentioned it so many times? SciComm stands for “Science Communication”, and what that means is exactly what it sounds like. Communicating the aspects of science. But it goes beyond that. For much of our scientific history, which has of course only been over the last few hundred years, we have kept much of the knowledge higher up on the social threshold. Today that is no longer how things are done, or at least that is the new way in which the scientific community is leaning. Of teaching and educating, sharing, and advancing the sciences by spreading determination and inspiration to new generations all around the world.
Science can compose of so many things, there are so many fields of science, and truly when one gets to know a few of them a little more closely, it is clear how they all relate to one another. Many sciences are now multidisciplinary, meaning you take more than one field and apply its methods to a problem. Often times this causes a much more accurate answer, and in better time.
Today’s sciences focus on a variety of topics, some of that which the fate of our world depends on. Things like climate change, ecology, population sciences, agricultural studies, environmental studies, etc. are all ways in which modern-day scientists are trying to do their part in helping the world. If we cannot leave the world a better place than we found it, what are we leaving future generations? We must prepare, we must use the gifts that we have been given intellectually to solve our problems.
Now some of you might be saying that it is too late, or that the solutions to the problems take too much time or money. Well to that I say, never before has there been such an enthused generation to really make change for the better for not only ourselves but the planet in which we habitat. One of the best ways in which we have discovered how to do this is SciComm. Teaching the next generations right from ecological and scientific wrong. Giving them the tools and methodology to make real change in the world.
It is important to understand that when we are dealing with the sciences, there is a grand canyon sort to say, of a distance between a “fact” and an “opinion”. Many people like to believe that their opinions lead to some scientific truth, but for many, this is unfortunately not true. It is important when getting involved in science, of any kind, to know that it has to be unbiased and that your feelings and opinions do not, and cannot affect the data. Otherwise, the science is flawed. One of the most important rules a science communicator can teach.
All right, so now that we have gone over all of that important information, what actually is SciComm and what role does it play? Well, as mentioned above, for a very long period, pretty much up until the modern-day, scientific discoveries were for one reason or another kept away from the general public. Either for their “safety”, or other manipulative reasons, or simply the information was too hard to understand that people gave up trying to explain it. Science Communication aims to fix all of those wrongs.
With science communication, the goal is to break open the doors of the “Ivory Tower” and let any interested person or party enter, to lay low the walls holding people back from a basic, or even advanced understanding of the sciences. Science communication is about taking advanced, hard-to-understand terms or concepts, and breaking them down in a way that anyone can understand. If done properly, it is even done in a fun way that is engaging and will live on with the individual the rest of their lives.
Science communication is about inspiration, about a call to action. It is about teaching that yes, there are real dangers out there, and there are real problems that need to be fixed, but, if we sit down collectively as a species, we can put our massive intellectual power together to save ourselves, and this planet. But beyond that, how else are we to advance as a species if we keep starting things over and over? We must build on what we know, share it with the next generation, and advance science.
So why is this all so important? Well, who do we want leading the world’s nations? Who do you want to make the decisions that are going to make massive ecological changes for dozens, if not hundreds of years or longer to follow? We need an educated body of people making these decisions, and unfortunately, that is not going to happen from the top down. It is sad to say but just is true, that we live in a world of old, outdated thinking. Pulling ourselves forward is going to take a great deal of effort, and that effort begins with each new generation.
When a new generation is born, it is an entirely new opportunity to start again, to instead of indoctrinating our children to believe one thing or another, but to give the facts, and nothing but the facts to those who seek it, and to allow them the opportunity to have, and express. These new generations will then grow to take over the positions of the old guard, creating a better, more educated world for us all to live in.
To do this, we must make sure that the resources are available, locally, and on national levels. That children of all nationalities, creeds, orientations, and backgrounds can learn to become whatever they dream to be. To create a future of possibility that seems to have been lost in this world. Science and education are shining lights in the darkness of an uneducated and ignorant world. A world that I do not think any of us wish to leave our children, our future generations.
Making this information available, creating lesson plans, tools, presentations, activities, and showing children the science, actually getting them involved is the best way in which we can make this happen. There is nothing like hands-on experience, and that is something unfortunately that so many children are lacking today.
Science has changed the world many times over, for better or for worse, and we have the chance to change the world again, and for the better, if we have the right tools, technology, and people leading us. This all starts with a science communicator sparking the interest of a child or two at a school presentation, or online. Or wherever it may be. We must do all that we can to promote these ideas and keep our societies moving forward, farther from the dark and towards the light.