Skip to main content

Get Involved

Whether you need volunteer hours, would like to share your research with the world, or just love science, the Office of Science Outreach has a way to get involved!

 

Volunteering

We need volunteers year-round at on-campus and school events! Penn State students, student groups, labs, and employees can help us run events, community members in STEM fields can serve as speakers, and local STEM-oriented companies can table at some of our events. Check out our list of programs and events for more details!

 

Every summer we hire staff to run our Science-U Summer Camps. If you're interested in working with us, check out our positions here

 

Classes

We run two classes for Penn State students- check them out below!

Are you a freshman or sophomore with an interest in developing your science outreach and communication skills? Sign up for our section of SC 294-001: Research Project Courses – Introduction to Science Outreach and Communication! Learn the best practices of science outreach and communication and practice your skills with real-world audiences through assignments like developing your own outreach activity and writing a blog post for the College of Science website! See below for more information.

Course Description

This course is taught by Office of Science Outreach staff and will introduce participants to the different forms of science outreach and science communication, as well as underlying theory, best practices, and challenges. Activities and assignments will include designing and leading science outreach activities and creating communications pieces that share science with the public (e.g., blog posts, videos).  This course is designed for students who want to develop their science outreach and communication skills so that they can be effective science advocates, educators, and communicators throughout their careers. The course is targeted at underclassmen, though juniors and seniors are not discouraged from registering. See below for information about variable credit options:

  • 1 Credit: Meet once a week for a regularly scheduled class time, participate in core assignments (e.g., developing/implementing a science outreach activity, science blog post)
  • 2 Credits: Meet once a week for a regularly scheduled class time, participate in core assignments, and more deeply develop one of their science outreach or science communication projects
  • 3 Credits: Meet once a week for a regularly scheduled class time, participate in core assignments, and more deeply develop one of their science outreach projects AND one of their science communication projects

*The 1-hour weekly course meeting time is determined based on the mutual availability of all students registered.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. How will the 1-hour class meeting each week be scheduled?
    Since this is a small course (enrollment is capped at 10 students), we will coordinate our weekly meeting time over email with all student before the semester begins.
  2. Can you explain the different credit options a bit more?
    All registered students, regardless of how many credits they sign up for, will only meet for class for 1 hour each week. During class, we will cover the core content and assignments of the course, such as the development of a short science outreach activity and the College of Science blog post assignment. All students will also be required to run their outreach activity once at one of our Exploration-U community science night events. 

    Students registered for 2 or 3 credits of the course will be able to select science outreach and/or communication projects to develop that build off our core assignments in class. (2-credit students will pick one project to develop, while 3-credit students will either pick two projects or develop one project to a much more significant extent.) Example projects include developing a 60-minute classroom-based outreach module for K-12 students on a topic of interest, developing materials for a small public-facing science exhibit, developing a YouTube video to explain a science topic to a certain audience, etc… Students will discuss their project ideas with the course instructors and dedicate time outside of class to develop their projects. They will be encouraged to schedule check-in meetings with the course instructors to discuss their progress and ideas!

  3. Isn’t SC 294 just for getting research or internship credit? 
    SC 294 is a course titled “Research Project Courses” that has mostly been used for research or internship credit in the past. Since this course is also fairly project-based, we were able to use the SC 294 course number to offer our special science outreach and communication-focused section of the course!
  4. Is this the same thing as the CHEM 297A freshman seminar that has been offered in the past? This course will be based on some of the content from CHEM 297A (which we will no longer be offering), but we will also be adding in new opportunities and assignments based on student and faculty feedback. The goal of the course is the same – we want to help students who are interested in outreach and communication develop their skills and connect them to opportunities to practice their skills and get involved!

Course Description

SC 451 will provide students with the skills and experience necessary to design outreach activities based on their research and interests, communicate their science in multiple modes, and engage with diverse audiences. Lectures will provide foundational material via a focus on the fundamentals of science communication and outreach, as well as some of the pedagogical basics of science education. Guest speakers will build upon this groundwork by leading modules on lesson planning for effective outreach and communicating with audiences through a variety of platforms, including social media, personal or professional blogs, media interviews, and press releases. These guest modules will be supplemented by panel discussions (with outreach and research professionals from Penn State) on science engagement in different settings (e.g., museums, extension meetings, public science lectures, K-12 classrooms, etc.), disseminating research via social media, and creating and integrating research-related outreach into broader impact statements for grant proposals.

The design of student outreach projects will provide a unifying thread throughout the semester, as students work in small groups to create, refine, and implement unique outreach activities following best practices outlined in lectures and panel discussions. Students will be encouraged to choose topics outside of their normal studies, expanding their ability to communicate science with which they are less familiar. Students will have multiple opportunities to both receive feedback from their peers and instructors and offer feedback on their peers' projects. Students will exhibit their activities at an event, and in doing so, practice the communication and engagement skills they developed throughout the semester. Through this process, students will gain experience disseminating science, as well as confidence in their ability to accomplish successful science outreach. Afterward, students will evaluate and reflect on their experience and use this self-evaluation to refine their activities for future use.

 

 

Interested in getting involved?

Contact us via email at sciencecamps@science.psu.edu or give us a call at (814) 865-0083

 Office of Science Outreach, 201 Ritenour Building, University Park, PA 16802