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Public Outreach and Engagement Training at Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham May 2023

By: Intan Chalid

FluidNET programme aims to promote PhD projects and offer training opportunities to Early Scientific Researchers (ESRs) in the areas of science and public engagement. Therefore, we held a public outreach of science communication in May 2023 as part of the engagement trainings. The session took place at the Lapworth Museum of Geology, located in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The main objective point of the event is to enhance the knowledge and skills in effectively communicating geoscience–related information to diverse groups of individuals through public outreach. However, our main goal is to efficiently convey the primary idea to children aged 8 and above. Hence, it is crucial that the message is conveyed in a clear and direct manner.

Earth scientists from the University of Birmingham have taught the engagement training. We worked with community development officers, professors of engaged research, and public engagement managers at the Lapworth Museum. We also worked with a Dutch expert from nature biodiversity. We have reached a number of sub-goals through this practise. These include getting better at figuring out what important messages our scientific research has for a wide range of audiences, learning how to communicate and interact with a lot of different people in a variety of ways, using objects as a way to communicate in the Museum, and improving our presentation skills, which include speaking, interactive techniques, and other media, all with the goal of reaching a wide range of audiences.

I have gained useful insights and experiences that have had a big effect on my personal and professional growth through my work as an organiser in the public engagement project at the Lapworth Museum of Geology. From my point of view as someone who is in charge of planning operations, this campaign was very powerful in many ways. First and foremost, this experience has made me deeply aware of how important it is to communicate science clearly. Talking to a lot of different people, from little kids to young adults to older people, gave me the chance to change how I talk to them and what I talk about to fit their different levels of understanding and preferences. This experience has been very helpful in improving my communication skills when it comes to scientific knowledge. Because of this experience, I learned how to break down complicated geoscience topics into simpler terms that a bigger audience can understand and find interesting.

In my job as an organiser, I was also able to build partnerships for cooperation with a wide range of groups and neighbourhoods. Collaboration was a key part of the success of our public engagement projects. The formation of these relationships has improved my ability to involve stakeholders and has emphasised the idea that working together can have a bigger impact on educating the public about science. In addition, this event gave me a chance to see firsthand the huge effects of getting people interested in science. Seeing people of all ages show interest and excitement about geology has been a very rewarding experience. I became even more sure of how important it is to build strong connections between scientists and the rest of the public after this experience.

My job as a planner has given me real-world experience with planning and carrying out events. Setting up guided tours, storytelling sessions, and interactive activities required a lot of planning and organisation, which taught me a lot about project management. In conclusion, the Lapworth Museum of Geology’s public involvement training has two goals: to get more people interested in geology and to help me learn more about it and grow as a geologist. I got better at communicating about science, getting stakeholders involved, and running events because of the experience. Without a doubt, learning these skills will help me in my ongoing efforts to make a positive addition to the fields of geoscience and scientific communication. This addition stresses the importance of science communication, stakeholder participation, and making a meaningful contribution, as well as the personal and professional growth that can be gained from the experience.

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