SCIEN300-23G (HAM)

Science Communication

15 Points

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The University of Waikato
Academic Divisions
Division of Health Engineering Computing & Science
School of Science

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What this paper is about

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In this paper students will learn and have opportunity to practice different forms of science communication, including oral presentations, posters/infographics, social media, videos and podcasts. The focus is on making your science understanding accessible to those who are not science trained. We also look at topics related to understanding of science, such as putting together a compelling story, presenting number-heavy or statistical data, dealing with misinformation and uncertainty, and communicating with the media. In order for students to have some science background to draw from we require a minimum of one 100-level paper in a science subject as a pre-requisite.

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How this paper will be taught

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This paper runs as a short, intensive paper over just five weeks. Sessions are timetabled on the Hamilton Campus for just one day a week, and will involve a mix of lectures and workshop-style activity in which students get to practise the skills they learn. This paper involves "Communication" and as such students are expected to fully participate in class activities. Since this is a full 15-point paper done in just 5 weeks, we expect that students will be doing considerable work outside class hours. Students will be preparing one or more substantial assessment items every week.

All sessions are recorded with Panopto and material made available on Moodle.

The final week will involve giving an oral presentation during the class time and thus for this week students need to attend in person.

If you have other substantial commitments (e.g. work or holiday) in this time we ask that you consider carefully whether you should be doing this paper. Please ask for advice.

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Required Readings

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The following book is recommended but not required. It is available in the library on the Hamilton campus.

S. Illingworth and G. Allen. (2020) Effective Science Communication: A practical guide to surviving as a scientist. 2nd edition, IOP Publishing Ltd, Bristol, UK. Also available as an ebook (to purchase) https://iopscience.iop.org/book/978-0-7503-1170-0

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Assess contemporary scientific issues by a professional and ethical approach to reviewing the primary scientific literature
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Be able to engage with mainstream media companies constructively
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Discuss and present scientific risk
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Draw conclusions from the available information
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  • Present numerically-intensive data in forms that can be easily understood
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  • Present scientific work in a manner suitable for non-scientific audiences using voice, video, written and graphical forms
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Source relevant information on contemporary scientific issues and appraise the relative reliability and quality of information from different sources
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Use social media to communicate science effectively and safely
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessments

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How you will be assessed

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(a) The internal assessment/examination ratio is 1:0.

(b) Assessment components:

Items 1-3. Social media posts. Students will use Moodle to post brief but valuable comments on three science stories; one story in each of the first three weeks of the paper. (10%, individually assessed).

Item 4. Audio commentary on a science experiment – Communicating quality information using spoken word. Students will provide an engaging 3 minute audio commentary of a science experiment they have done as part of their degree study. 20%. Individually assessed.

Item 5. Video on "in the news now" topic - communicating topical information. Students will produce a short video (around 1-2 minutes in length) on a topical science story. 20%. Can be individual or as a pair.

Item 6. Poster presentations - Students will consider an example of scientific risk, and present it in the form of a scientific poster. (20%, individually assessed).

Item 7: Writing - students will prepare a piece of scientific writing on a science topic of their choosing, suitable for 'The Conversation' or other similar media outlets. (15%, individually assessed).

Item 8. Oral Presentation - Students will give a short (4 minute) oral presentation to the class in the final day's session, on a science topic of the student's choosing. The topic should have a numerical/statistical element to it that allows the student to demonstrate presentation of number-intensive data in a meaningful way. (15%, individually assessed).

(c) Assessments are normally due in at 9 am Mondays. This allows the lecturer to mark them (or most of them) and get feedback to the class before the next session on a Tuesday.

(d) More detail on what is required is given in the assignment descriptions on Moodle.

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Social Media Post 1
20 Nov 2023
9:00 AM
3
  • Online: Moodle Forum Discussion
2. Social Media Post 2
27 Nov 2023
9:00 AM
3
  • Online: Moodle Forum Discussion
3. Social Media Post 3
4 Dec 2023
9:00 AM
4
  • Online: Moodle Forum Discussion
4. Audio commentary
20 Nov 2023
9:00 AM
20
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Video
27 Nov 2023
9:00 AM
20
  • Other: Upload at coursecast.its.waikato.ac.nz
6. Poster
4 Dec 2023
9:00 AM
20
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
7. Written communication
11 Dec 2023
9:00 AM
15
  • Online: Upload to Moodle Forum
8. Oral Presentation
12 Dec 2023
9:00 AM
15
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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