The COPUS community works to increase public dialog about science - and all those who are passionate about science are invited to be a part of that dialog! To spread the word about COPUS efforts to the scientific community, several COPUS members held a workshop at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) annual meeting in Seattle in January 2010. It was a nice way to book end the Year of Science 2009 - YoS was launched at 2009's SICB meeting in Boston. At this year's SICB meeting, the COPUS workshop was presented by Mark Terry, Jen Collins, Jim Kenagy, and Jeanne Chowning. They talked with scientists about education and outreach efforts, focusing on activities celebrated by COPUS, such as the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, the Understanding Science web resource, and the USA Science and Engineering Festival.
Jeanne Chowning of the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research talked about a fantastic program called Student Bio Expo. This program matches high school students with mentors in the scientific community. Students work with their mentors in research facilities and do independent research projects. It gives the students an in-depth look at science as a career - and it provides a great opportunity for mentorship. Many of the scientists found that participating re-affirmed their reasons for becoming scientists in the first place. The program culminates in the Student Bio Expo, where students present posters about their work. The Student Bio Expo website has a great video that explains the program - evidence of the program's success is visible in the many smiling faces of both students and scientists! This program is a great example of how the scientific research community can be involved in science outreach.
In addition to the workshop, COPUS activities were represented by Jennifer Collins, from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. She gave a talk about a species naming contest that was part of the Year of Science 2009. Over 500 people entered the contest to name a putative new species of banded box jellyfish - but over the course of the contest, the scientists involved decided that it was premature to designate this banded box jelly as a unique species. Read more about the jellyfish naming contest on the Year of Science 2009 website.
COPUS folks also had a booth in the meeting's exhibit hall. (When the workshop is standing-room-only, an exhibit booth is a good way to connect with people who can't fit in the room!) Mark Terry and Jim Kenagy report that they had numerous worthwhile conversations with SICB scientists who were interested in learning more about education outreach opportunities.
COPUS booths at scientific meetings are a great way to connect your scientific meeting with the local community, to spread the word about great outreach programs, and to inspire scientists to get involved in communicating and celebrating science. If you would like to learn more, please contact Jennifer Skene at firstname.lastname@example.org.