The “third space” exists between the cultural worlds of school and community. The informal science communication sector, because of its diversity, can populate such a third space, within which the different discourses of the formal system and the everyday world are reconciled. This space is presently quite empty, with only incoherent and sporadic attempts to provide for such engagement. This paper describes two Australian initiatives operating in this third space. The first is a unique program for the mothers of high school students called „Science for Mums „. It enables mothers with little science to engage with their children‟s science at high school level. Parents, in particular mothers, often have little knowledge or confidence in science, yet their involvement in their children‟s schoolwork can have a positive effect on their children‟s choice of subjects for study or their future career. The approach was gender-specific and culturally appropriate. Evaluations indicated positive outcomes, particularly in the reported level of parent–child discussions. The second initiative is the largest outreach program in the world. Operating out of Questacon, Australia‟s National Science and Technology Centre, the „Science Circus‟ consists of a travelling exhibition, school science shows and career showcasing. Now in its 30th year, it travels across Australia focusing on regional areas, including indigenous groups. The program has inspired many to engage with science. Evaluations indicate that its influence is profound and long lasting. Emphasis is placed on family engagement through careful timing of the exhibitions and strong links to the schools.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science communication in the third space

Susan Stocklmayer   The Australian National University

Michael Gore   The Australian National University

The “third space” exists between the cultural worlds of school and community. The informal science communication sector, because of its diversity, can populate such a third space, within which the different discourses of the formal system and the everyday world are reconciled. This space is presently quite empty, with only incoherent and sporadic attempts to provide for such engagement. This paper describes two Australian initiatives operating in this third space. The first is a unique program for the mothers of high school students called „Science for Mums „. It enables mothers with little science to engage with their children‟s science at high school level. Parents, in particular mothers, often have little knowledge or confidence in science, yet their involvement in their children‟s schoolwork can have a positive effect on their children‟s choice of subjects for study or their future career. The approach was gender-specific and culturally appropriate. Evaluations indicated positive outcomes, particularly in the reported level of parent–child discussions. The second initiative is the largest outreach program in the world. Operating out of Questacon, Australia‟s National Science and Technology Centre, the „Science Circus‟ consists of a travelling exhibition, school science shows and career showcasing. Now in its 30th year, it travels across Australia focusing on regional areas, including indigenous groups. The program has inspired many to engage with science. Evaluations indicate that its influence is profound and long lasting. Emphasis is placed on family engagement through careful timing of the exhibitions and strong links to the schools.

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