WSKG Public Media is closing the gap between science jargon and the general public by engaging the community through a monthly lecture series titled “Science Pub BING.”
These events started in February of 2020 at a local eatery highlighting science. They were done at Binghamton University in front of a standing room only audience. The topic was on amphibians and how they are reacting to environmental stressors. Dr. Jessica Hua and her PhD students highlighted their research. The audience asked so many questions and was so engaged with the research that the event went well beyond it’s scheduled end time. A post-event survey showed that the community wanted more of these kinds of engagements, connecting science in a way that was understandable to the general public.
When the pandemic hit, we were challenged with taking a social in-person event and flipping it online. How would our audience respond? Would speakers be willing to present via Zoom? Everyone was stressed as New York closed down restaurants, bars and public gatherings – the backbone to our engagement strategy.
Through innovation and perseverance, Science Pub transitioned online without skipping too much of a beat. By offering these events online, we found ourself attracting a different audience than we originally anticipated. People were looking for ways to engage with others outside of their homes during COVID-19 shutdowns, and this platform gave them this opportunity. We could be socially distant, still provide a social space and highlight science all at the same time. Topics covered during our online series include ancient genetics, tick-borne illnesses and mental health coping during a pandemic.
WSKG began Science Pub because there is a clear divide between science and the public. This divide is more evident now than ever as we move through seeing science in action during the COVID-19 pandemic. This series allows the public to talk to scientists, be heard with their questions and learn about local research having global impact. Experts gain experience in science communication when connecting with the public without using jargon but still presenting accurate science that isn’t ‘dumbed down.’ We are excited to continue this important work and look forward to expanding this to a podcast in the future.