open science

The Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT): Adapting a successful outreach programme to a new region

Kathryn Williamson, Angela Des Jardins, Irene Grimberg, Shane L. Larson, Joey Key, Michelle B. Larson, Sue Ann Heatherly, David McKenzie, Tyson B. Littenberg

The Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT) recruits and trains undergraduate ambassadors from all disciplines to deliver astronomy and space-science-themed interactive presentations. They deliver these presentations to primary and secondary schools and organisations across the state of Montana, USA. SPOT was started in 1996 by physics graduate students at Montana State University, USA, and it has grown to reach an average of 10 000 students per year for a low institutional cost of less than five dollars (four euros) per student. In the last year, the Montana SPOT model has been adopted in the state of West Virginia. The West Virginia SPOT programme also shows great potential, with eleven ambassadors trained to give two new feature presentations, reaching over 2600 students. In this paper, we describe how the Montana SPOT model works in practice and discuss how this model was adapted with new resources, and for a new audience, such that others may also adapt the programme to inspire space science interest for their own particular setting. We invite these groups to plug into the SPOT brand to broaden the impact of astronomy and space programmes and applications in their own region.

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The Power of Simplicity: Explaining All-There-Is with the most common thousand words

Roberto Trotta

The book Edge of the Sky recounts the story of the Universe — All-There-Is — and its outstanding mysteries by following a female scientist — Student-Woman — as she spends one night observing distant galaxies — Star-Crowds — with the help of a giant telescope — Big-Seer. The story is written using only the most common 1000 words in the English language. In this article author and astrophysicist, Roberto Trotta, reflects on how he came to write the book, why he chose this format and what he has learnt along the way.

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Mapping the hinterland: Data issues in open science

Ann Grand, Clare Wilkinson, Karen Bultitude, Alan F. T. Winfield

Open science is a practice in which the scientific process is shared completely and in real time. It offers the potential to support information flow, collaboration and dialogue among professional and non-professional participants. Using semi-structured interviews and case studies, this research investigated the relationship between open science and public engagement. This article concentrates on three particular areas of concern that emerged: first, how to effectively contextualise and narrate information to render it accessible, as opposed to simply available; second, concerns about data quantity and quality; and third, concerns about the skills required for effective contextualisation, mapping and interpretation of information.

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