First students complete exciting new module in Teaching, Outreach and Public Engagement

Picture of two women talking to someone out of view, with an iPad in front of them.

Lancaster University students recently completed a new course providing them with the skills and experience to promote and educate the public about science.

The ‘Teaching, Outreach and Public Engagement’ module, open to students across the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST), is the first in the country to combine the three elements into a single course.

Dr Jonathan Gratus, Senior Lecturer in Physics and joint course co-ordinator decided to offer the course after realising the scientific community needed to do more to train students in the skills needed to actively promote their work.

Funded by a grant from the FST Engagement Fund, the Physics department and supported by the FST Teaching Committee, this unique option was taught by professionals in teaching and engagement and provided students with opportunities to showcase science to the public at all levels. From working in schools as a science teacher, to presenting public lectures on topics as diverse as volcanology and climate change, the 39 students were keen to put the knowledge they had learned into practice.

Feedback from the students was positive. Many said the course provided challenges unavailable in their other modules and helped them get a better understanding of how to communicate not just the facts of science but the impact it has on daily life. Several students have continued to develop science education initiatives of their own, through podcasts, videos, and other educational materials, and all recognised how the skills they gained could positively impact their future careers.

Dr Gratus is offering the course again this year and is confident its popularity will continue to grow. “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn how to communicate science to both adults and children and I’m certain more students will benefit from the experience it provides in future years.”

Jonathan was supported by a fantastic team of academics, teachers and outreach professionals, without whom the course would never have run.

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