Understanding Science: How to Fill the Communication Gap

Beakers and flasks of clear fluid. Ethanol, biofuel, chemistry, science, liquid

The industrialization of society has led to many scientific advancements, which have both benefits and controversies. Despite sound science, controversies around scientific issues have led the public to make decisions that disagree with scientific evidence. Why does this gap between science and perception exist? This four-page fact sheet looks at the characteristics of scientists, the media, and the public to help explain how the gap in science communication has occurred while also providing strategies for closing that gap in the future. Written by Joy N. Rumble and published by the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication.

Lessons Learned from Evaluations of Citizen Science Programs (FOR291/FR359)

Figure 1.  Citizen scientist volunteers assist in the installation of groundwater monitoring wells. Extension agents with an interest in increasing the scientific and environmental awareness of their constituents may find an answer through a form of participatory scientific research known as citizen science. Citizen science uses volunteers of all ages, professions, backgrounds, and skills — often across broad geographic areas — to engage non-scientists in a variety of tasks, but most commonly data collection. This 5-page fact sheet informs potential citizen science practitioners of recent evaluations of citizen science programs. Looking closely at identifying appropriate tasks for volunteers, assessing data validity, and evaluating changes in volunteers’ knowledge and attitudes can help organizers avoid common pitfalls and develop citizen science programs most likely to succeed. Written by Luke Gommerman and Martha C. Monroe, and published by the UF Department of School of Forest Resources and Conservation, May 2012.