How to develop objective-driven comprehensive science outreach initiatives aiming at multiple audiences

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Science outreach has become increasingly important for researchers and needs to be of ever improving quality, although the time available aside our science, teaching and administration activities is steadily decreasing. To square this circle, effective strategies are required. Here we argue that this can be achieved by setting simple but ambitious overarching objectives for comprehensive outreach initiatives which target multiple audiences, supported by cumulative build-up of shared high-quality resources, as well as the exchange and collaboration amongst scientists with a common outreach aim. To exemplify this strategy, we explain the low-budget, yet high-quality outreach initiative of the Manchester Fly Facility which aims to promote public awareness of the importance of the model organism Drosophila for biomedical research. (1) This initiative targets the general public at science fairs, through public videos, or through extracurricular activities in schools as well as the development of curriculum-relevant sample lessons for teachers - all supported by a dedicated website. (2) The initiative targets university students: by adapting the public outreach resources for their teaching, and through newly developed advanced training strategies that amalgamate the outreach objectives. (3) It targets fellow scientists through blogs, conference presentations and a second website that provides a one-stop-shop for resources, arguments and strategies. As will be explained, this multi-pronged approach is time-saving in the long run and it is powerful because it reaches a wide range of audiences, helps to gain momentum, to build resource, and to gradually improve quality through cross-fertilisation between different activities, and through exchange within the science community. This helps to build communities, and high-quality outreach will have further important added value: arguments that impress the public, tend to be most effective also with reviewers and grant panel members, and often help to readjust aspects of your own scientific work.

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2015

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