So you think you can spin… but can you? Or should you?
Craig Reucassel – of the Chaser and more recently the Checkout fame (or infamy!) – chairs a panel discussion to see if we can get to the bottom of science ‘spin’. The panelists come from a variety of backgrounds, including agriculture (Dr. Matt Cahill), software engineering (Sally-Ann Williams) and engineering (Prof. Lincoln Wood).
After brief introductions from the brains trust (read their bios for more information) Craig poses the question “how is science perceived in the community?”
In the case of agricultural science, it’s a dirty word – it is just not sexy. In his experience, Matt has seen that a lot of people don’t realise the myriad of professionals that can stem from knowledge of agricultural science. It is not just a factory to make future farmers, but rather it will have an impact of the future food production (and therefore survival) of our country. Lincoln had seen a similar trend, where students were unable to connect the science or maths that they were learning at school with the potential for their future careers.
Both Sally-Ann and Lincoln gave some great examples of getting engagement with school children’s and providing them with experiences that they could use to form relationships in their perception of science and how it can open doorways to a number of careers. Sally-Ann gave the example of code.org, which is allowing kids from all over the world to learn to code. Not only is it opening careers for these children but it has managed to gain publicity by way of some big names – most notably music producer and Black Eyed Pea (singular) Will.I.Am.
The question of using stars to promote engagement projects brings us to the inevitable question of “does using stars (or other like means) to promote engagement ‘cheapen’ the message?” Luckily for us, Craig is not afraid of asking the questions that make us squirm in our seats.
The panel agreed that kids trust heroes and they often come in the form of musicians or actors – the question is, how do we we make scientists heros?
Although the discussion could have easily carried on far in to the afternoon, we had other important matters to discuss. Some of the questions from the audience give us some food for thought in further discussions (please tell us what you think below!). Some notable questions were:
- How can scientists access the media and therefore the public?
- How can we stop journalists and marketing teams from ‘bastardising’ science?
- How do we keep trust from the public while engaging industry?
- How do we make sure our audience is more than just other scientists?