From ice to paper

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Lesson overview

Scientists work to increase our understanding, so it is important for the Catlin Ice Base research team to share their findings with a wider audience. They did this in three ways. First, they wrote a scientific paper, recording their research, data and analysis. Second, the university published a press release to share the findings more widely outside the science community. They also collaborated with Encounter Edu to make this educational resource. This lesson examines the process and difficulties of sharing science with different audiences.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand that scientists need to share their findings
  • Know about and evaluate the different ways of sharing scientific research
  • Compare the style and language of scientific papers with press releases

Lesson steps

  1. Starter: Sharing the science (10 mins)
    Use the Slideshow ‘Sharing research’ to introduce students to the different methods that scientists use to disseminate their findings and about the peer review process.
  2. What does a science paper look like? (15 mins)
    Use the slideshow and Student Sheet 5a: 'Published paper' to explain the science paper to your class. More free science samples can be found here (www.pnas.org/content/110/51/E4960). Guide the discussion by asking the following questions:

    What do you think about the language used in the science paper?

    Why do you think that scientists use this kind of language? (hint: there is a strict word limit for papers)

    Do you think that science publishers and scientists should aim to write in a way that is more understandable for a wider audience?
  3. How can science be communicated in the press? (10 mins)
    Read through the press release from the University of Exeter in Student Sheet 5b and ask students – does it make the science easier to understand? Use the slideshow to explore how else the university could have communicated the science.
  4. How can science be useful to society? (10 mins)
    Use the slideshow to identify the different pathways to impact used by scientists. Which of the pathways are important and why?
  5. Plenary: What changes could be made to the way science aims to have impact? (5 mins)
    As a plenary session, use the slideshow to debate how public-funded science might be of more use to society.
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