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2018 STEM Ambassador Workshops

By October 7, 2019No Comments

Letter From STEMAP Team

Dear STEM Ambassadors and Community Partners,

Welcome to the spring issue of the STEMAP Newsletter! Even as the academic year is coming to a close, we have had no shortage of exciting news and events!

The 2018 STEMAP cohort kicked off in February. Ambassadors completed three workshops and are now working on designing engagement activities. Stay tuned for updates on engagement activities from this cohort over the spring and summer!

STEMAP Director Nalini Nadkarni participated in a “Communicating Science” panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting where she shared the innovative public engagement work being done by STEM Ambassadors.

We are thrilled to see 2016 and 2017 Ambassadors continuing to stay active in public engagement. Krista Carlson was funded to lead a six-part workshop at the Girls Transition Center, Ariadne Penalva visited with participants at 10th East Senior Center, Pratiti Tagore participated in an Excellence in Gardening course at Salt Lake County Jail, and a science film review by Gabrielle Kardon was featured in Science. In the midst of these activities, we were delighted to learn that STEM Ambassador Kevin Davenport was accepted into the prestigious AAAS Mass Media Fellowship Program where he will continue to hone his science communication skills.

STEMAP will be hosting a science communication workshop on May 11th with Dr. Dennis Schatz of the Pacific Science Center. A very limited number of seats remain. RSVP to Megan Young today!

Lastly, STEMAP is now on Twitter! Follow us for the latest STEMAP news.

Thank you for your continued support!


Nalini Nadkarni, Director
Caitlin Weber, Program Manager
Megan Young, Program Coordinator
Ally Jelitto, Program Aide

2018 STEM Ambassador Workshops

The 2018 cohort is underway!

Ambassadors attended their first workshop on March 2nd where they developed interview and notetaking skills in preparation for their visit to community venues.  After the workshop, all Ambassadors visited the venue in which they hope to engage to learn about the people and setting. The knowledge gained on these “immersion visits” is critical in developing an engagement activity that is tailored to the community.

STEMAP mentors and community partners joined the cohort for the second workshop on March 9th. Ambassadors from 2016 and 2017 presented their public engagement journeys and provided insight on how they found their different community partners.

Several community partners were also in attendance. Dan Gibbs and Laura Lambert from Splore, Dave Alderman from the Greater Avenues Community Council, and Steve Kaelin from the Utah State Board of Education shared their experiences working with STEMAP and offered advice to scientists. The presence of community partners and STEMAP mentors offered a valuable opportunity for members of the 2018 cohort to learn more about the partnerships and engagement activities STEMAP supports. Thanks to all those who attended!

Ambassadors attended a third workshop April 13th, where they used notes from their immersion visit to brainstorm engagement ideas with the help of STEMAP staff, and STEMAP mentors Greg Handy and Kevin Davenport.

Staff is now preparing for a fourth workshop on May 11th, which will be led by Dr. Dennis Schatz of the Pacific Science Center. Dennis will share his expertise in science communication and provide Ambassadors with communication tools to implement their engagement plans.

Nalini Nadkarni at AAAS

STEMAP Director Dr. Nalini Nadkarni
STEMAP Director Nalini Nadkarni was invited to participate in one of three panels for the “Communicating Science Seminar at the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on February 15. The panel was extremely timely for our work with STEMAP, as it concerned “Reaching Beyond the Science-Interested Public”. The premise of the panel was that “an increasingly significant challenge in public engagement and science communication is reaching beyond the science-interested public. ‘Preaching to the choir’ of people who already appreciate and use science is clearly important, but it’s not the only audience many would like to engage. Are there certain frames, messages, contexts, and communication channels that work better for resistant, uninterested, and other hard-to-reach audiences?”

Nadkarni described and gave examples of engagement experiences with people outside of academia, emphasizing the need for scientists to identify significant connections with particular public groups; carry out an immersion activity to learn about the group; to provide the engagement event in the venue of the public group, and to create opportunities for meaningful exchange between the scientists and the public groups. The panel was attended by over 400 scientists, and STEMAP received contacts and queries via email and social media as a result.

Nadkarni was interviewed for a science podcast while at the AAAS meeting. You can listen to the interview here.

May 11th Workshop

On May 11th, STEMAP will be hosting a science communication workshop led by Dr. Dennis Schatz. Dennis serves as a Senior Advisor at the Pacific Science Center and is a senior member of the STEMAP team.  He is the founder of the Portal to the Public Program (PoP), a science communication training program that has been adopted by over 50 science centers and museums nationwide. In addition to his work with STEMAP and the Pacific Science Center, Dennis has authored 23 children’s science books and served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation.

The workshop will focus on best practices in science communication based on science of learning research. A very limited number of seats remain for 2016 and 2017 STEM Ambassadors to attend this workshop. RSVP to Megan Young today if you’d like to participate!

Date & Time: May 11th 2:00-5:00
Location: University of Utah

Kevin Davenport receives AAAS Mass Media Fellowship

STEM Ambassador Kevin Davenport
The AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows collaborate with media professionals to make science news accessible. Sponsored by the American Physical Society (APS), 2016 Ambassador and Physicist Kevin Davenport has received a position in this highly competitive program and will be working as a science writer at the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho.

Congratulations Kevin!

Krista Carlson at Girls Transition Center

STEM Ambassador Krista Carlson
STEM Ambassador and Metallurgical Engineering Assistant Professor Krista Carlson secured funding for and led a six-course science workshop for teens at the Girls Transition Center (GTC) entitled “The Hidden World of Glass.”

Krista received funding for the workshops from the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF). In her proposal, Krista explained that she aimed to bring hands-on science activities to youth in secure facilities who are typically unable to participate in traditional science laboratory experiments. In doing so, she hopes to encourage more students to pursue careers in science.

Inspiration for the project came from Krista’s experience as a child. She spent a good amount of time in the principal’s office and mentioned that she could have ended up in a similar situation if it weren’t for her support group. “The great equalizer is education. I think a lot of our societal issues could be solved by increasing the access people have to education and hands-on experiences. By bringing these activities into these facilities, we could potentially inspire the next generation of scientists who can create positive change in the world,” said Krista. A difficult undertaking for a single person, Krista was thankful for the support she received from staff members from STEMAP and INSPIRE.

When asked what advice she would give other Ambassadors who would like to pursue funding for a similar type of event, Krista was passionate about scientists making a connection with their community, “You need to be genuinely interested in the group you’re working with, immersion is critical.”

Krista also pointed out that she benefitted from engaging with the students at GTC. She emphasized that learning new ways to present information through public engagement has improved her teaching, “Working with young people is very important to not become rigid in your thinking and teaching.”

Krista is in the process of evaluating and revising “The Hidden World of Glass” and plans to launch a second workshop series in the fall.

Gabrielle Kardon Film Review in Science

STEM Ambassador Gabrielle Kardon

“Three Identical Strangers,” directed by Tim Wardle, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this January. 2017 STEM Ambassador and Associate Professor of Human Genetics Gabrielle Kardon published a review on the film addressing important questions about the role of nature and nurture.

Check out Gabrielle’s review in Science!

STEM Ambassador Reflections

We are excited to feature articles from STEM Ambassadors. Read about their engagement experiences below!

Ariadne Penalva at 10th E Senior Center

STEM Ambassador Ari Penalva

On February 15th, I visited the 10th East Senior Center to give a presentation on the neuroscience of optical illusions to the members of that community. The presentation was mostly held with a PowerPoint format, but was highly interactive and encouraged active participation from the audience members. This encouragement was well received by the majority of the attendees, some of which were highly inquisitive and provided very interesting and clever insight. This experience was thus a definite learning and exciting exercise for both the audience members and myself.

Presenting at a senior center a second time provided me with a better idea on the variability of this setting and the ways in which I can design and plan my events in the future. I definitely plan to continue designing outreach events for this and similar communities in the near future, as they are extremely fun and highly rewarding!

Pratiti Tagore at Salt Lake County Jail

Ambassador and Urban Planner Pratiti Tagore

I conducted an interactive classroom lecture at the Salt Lake County Jail on Feb 22nd as part of the Jail’s Excellence in Gardening course. I met with 15 inmates to discuss water scarcity in Utah and my research to better understand perceptions of water scarcity. We also talked about how water wise landscaping is contributing to water savings.

The most interesting part of the interaction was when I presented possible career options for the inmates. We spoke about different programs that offer water wise training and explored ways to learn about water saving plants and technologies. It was an incredible experience and I hope to work with the Jail again soon!

Welcome 2018 STEM Ambassadors

Join us in welcoming the members of the 2018 cohort! Visit our website for more information on their interests.

Sarah Apple
Tara Deans
Kendall FitzGerald
Daniel Mendoza

Victoria Russell
Morgan Wambaugh

Geology & Geophysics
Atmospheric Sciences (Geology) & Division of Pulmonary (School of Medicine)

STEMAP on Twitter

STEMAP is now on Twitter! Follow us @stemapteam for updates on events and other #scicomm related news!

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