SciComm Project Guidelines
What is SciComm?
Effective communication is essential for science. In this course, you have learned a little about responsible conduct of research and about the components that make good science, such as repeatability and peer review. You learned about the components of the scientific journal articles used to communicate research results to other scientists. But the world does not just consist of other scientists. How do you communicate about science with nonscientists?
This assignment will explore science communication (or SciComm). In general, any form of communication about science or scientific research to an audience of nonscientists would be considered SciComm. Methods, or genres, of SciComm include writing, presentations, or even social media!
For this assignment, you will be communicating about a scientific concept or topic related to the current coronavirus pandemic to a nonscientist audience. You will begin by watching some videos describing important aspects of SciComm and use the CLIPS SciComm Planning Tool to help you plan what you want to communicate and how you will do it. You will submit your completed planning tool by 11:59 pm on Sunday, April 11, 2021.
After completion of the Planning Tool, you will use it to develop your SciComm project, using the information from your planning tool and this document as your guide. This final assignment will be due by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
The videos and information below will help you to complete this assignment:
Watch these videos to learn more about SciComm and how to do it!
Introduction to communication: https://youtu.be/8OtnrB_9Zd4 (Note, this describes the planning tool you will use for this assignment)
Audience, Speaker, Topic, & Genre: https://youtu.be/ZQljm_9m4u4
Context & Purpose: https://youtu.be/UKr040UbVts
Visit this webpage and learn about tips for communicating with the public: https://www.clips.edu.au/public-communication/
Complete the CLIPS SciComm Planning Tool. Use the information from the videos and the descriptions below as you complete the tool.
1. Audience: Your audience consists of nonscientists from your community. The audience maybe general (the community of Harford County) or you may be more specific (e.g., non-STEM majors at HCC, elementary school students, high school students, coworkers, family members, neighbors). Remember, your audience helps determine how you will communicate your message. Information about coronavirus for K-12 students will be really different than for an older audience!
2. Speaker/writer: Think about how you will present your information and message to your audience. How technical should you be? What is appropriate for you and your level of expertise?
3. Topic: You will need to choose a topic related to the current coronavirus pandemic. I have provided some ideas here and there are resources located in the subfolders of the assignment folder on Blackboard. You have many options for what you will talk about in your SciComm assignment. You may choose from the following topic ideas or contact me if you want to use another topic not listed here. You do not need to answer EVERY question under the topics below, but be sure to provide enough background information so your audience will understand what you are talking about!
a. What is SARS-CoV-2?
1) Describe the virus and its structure.
2) Describe how it infects and replicates in the body (consider ACE and/or how viruses use host machinery to replicate themselves)?
3) What is the difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19?
4) Is it the same as the flu? Why or why not?
1) What does transmission mean with regard to infectious diseases?
2) What is/are the route(s) of transmission for coronavirus?
3) What does the term transmission rate (R0, pronounced R naught) mean in epidemiology?
4) Compare R0 for coronavirus with that of other common illnesses (for example, influenza, measles, polio, Ebola) and explain what this means about how transmissible coronavirus is compared to other diseases.
5) What are the best ways to prevent transmission of coronavirus?
6) Additional resources may be found at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
c. Where did coronavirus come from?
1) What is meant by host species of a virus?
2) What is a zoonotic disease?
3) How are they spread?
4) What is spillover?
5) Define reservoir, host, and intermediate host in regard to zoonotic diseases.
6) What do scientists think are the most likely reservoirs or intermediate hosts for coronavirus? Do scientists know for sure?
7) How could humans increase the likelihood of zoonotic disease transmission to humans?
d. COVID-19 Treatment
1) Are there any FDA-approved medical treatments for COVID-19 (i.e., ones that are not in the experimental or clinical trials stages but have been proven effective)?
2) What are some of the possible medical treatments that are being considered?
e. COVID-19 Vaccines
1) What vaccines have been approved for the prevention of COVID-19? What vaccines are in clinical trials?
2) Describe the technology underlying these vaccines (for example, virus, viral vector, DNA-based, RNA-based, etc.) and how that type of vaccine works.
f. Racial and Ethnic Disparities
1) Are there higher rates of infection and/or death for different minority or ethnic groups?
2) What are the underlying causes of these disparities? Are they more related to biological differences between races/ethnic groups or are socioeconomic factors more likely the cause? Explain your answer. Refer to the data!
3) Additional resources for this topic include: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html and https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
4. Genre: The genre refers to the method you will use for communicating with your audience. The following options can be considered for this assignment:
a. Blog post: A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. If you choose this genre, you will write a blog post that could be included on a blog site dedicated to science communication or to the coronavirus pandemic. For more information on what blogs are and how to write a blog post, see the resources in the Blog subfolder on Blackboard. Your blog should be between 300-1500 words and should contain images to help your reader understand the information. If you use an image created by someone else, be sure to cite your source! DO NOT copy and paste the writing from a source. It must be in your own words. For examples of blog posts, visit the website: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/category/flash/
b. 3-Minute Scientist: You get three PowerPoint slides to explain your topic to your audience. This option requires you to either use the record function to voiceover each PowerPoint slide or video yourselves in front of a screen. You may not use animations or videos created by someone else (such as YouTube) to explain your topic to your audience. Your video should be no more than 3 minutes in length. See the 3-Minute Scientists subfolder on Blackboard for tips on how to do this and a storyboard template (a good way to plan out what you want to say and create a script). See https://breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/challenge for some examples!
c. Infographic: An infographic (or information graphic) visually communicates information to your audience. Icons, illustrations, minimal text, data visualizations, and information are used to create a narrative. Refer to the resources in the Infographics folder on Blackboard or visit https://www.clips.edu.au/infographics/ for more information. To see some great examples, visit http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/category/flash/ and look at the art gallery, blogs. You can also check out examples found at https://www.evalu-ate.org/one-pagers/#examples. If you cannot create your infographic using the computer, you may create a hand-drawn infographic poster and upload a picture of it for your assignment (just be sure I can clearly read the poster and all of your graphics and text!).
d. Twitter thread: Create a thread that could be posted to Twitter about your topic. Your thread can include up to 4 tweets, each of which can be 280 characters. Create your own hashtag for the topic. You may include a picture or graph related to your topic as well. For an example, see the sample in the folder.
5. Context: Consider how your message fits into the big picture and current events in order to help engage your audience (this should be an easy one!).
6. Purpose: What do you want to achieve with your message? For example, are you trying to teach people about a certain topic? Are you trying to increase public awareness of a certain issue? Are you trying to change their points of view or behaviors?
Complete your project.
Using your planning guide and the resources found in the assignment folder, complete your project. It is OK if you change things a bit from your planning guide. It is meant as a starting point!
Grading Refer to the rubric for your genre (found in the Blackboard folder). Use this as a checklist to ensure you have met all of the criteria of the assignment.
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