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Sound It Is Our Responsibility to Teach
P°""°°""°‘ Science Communication to Students
Laura N. Kloepper Science and technology impact the lives of everyday citizens, but we currently face a

Address: lack of understanding of even basic sdentific concepts bythe general public. For example,
Saint Marys Cnflege only about one in five Americans is considered "scientifically literate” (Miller, 2010).
262 Sdmce Han Various factors affect knowledge and attitudes toward science, including age, race, edu-
Nmm Dan“) India“ 46556 cational level, and political ideology (PEW Research Center, 2015; American Academy of
USA Arts and Sdences, 2018), but the perception of science directly influences public support
_ of funding for scientific research (Allum et al., 2008; Munoz et at, 2012). Unfortunately,
_ Emmi: we have a history of a bad public perception of science, especially in the media. Perhaps
nd°EPPu@mmmarYs'ed“ you remember the “shrimp on a treadmill” story from 201 1, in which a National Sdence
Foundation-funded study to invmtigate the response of marine organisms to climate
change was twisted into headlines proclaiming scientists were “wasting” millions of
taxpayers’ dollars to force shrimp to exercise (National Public Radio, 2011). Or what
about the current “anti-vax" movement, initiated by dramatic headlines and celebrity
endorsements, which has led to multiple measles outhreaks amass the United States (The
New York Times, 2019)? As scientists, we may think this isn't our problem. After all, we
are scientifically literate. We conduct research, attend conferences, and publish papers.
It’s not our fault that norisdentists can't understand the difl'erent between evidence-based
research and headline-grabbing taglines. That’s the job for the media, right?
Albert Einstein once said, “You do not really understand something unless you can
explain it to your yandmother." Even though this statement was delivered before the rise
of social media and 24/7 news cycles, his words are even more important today. Iargue
that it is indeed every scientist‘: responsibility to learn how to efieetively communicate
the key ideas of their research to the general public including the societal relevance of
their work. As scientists, we cannot rely on others to communicate our research. We
must allbe advocates for science and help promote the importance of research funding
through effective science communication. Otherwise, we face the continued problem
of science skepticism, which bleeds into our politicians and directly impacts our ability
to secure future research funding. Whether our communication is through technical
writing, conference presentations, discussions with the media, tweets, or even infor-
mal oonversations with airline seatmates, scientisu everywhere need to learn effective
strategies to communicate science to a wide audience. Fortunately, we are beginning to
understand the importance of science communication, and there are numerous work-
shops and seminars that scientists can attend to hone their communication skills (e.g.,
aldacenterorglworkshops; aaa.s.orglprogra.nis/communicating-science; comsciconcom;
sciencetallcorg). But with the increasing demand of time on scientists, are extracurricular
workshops enough?
Ifwe want to tnily efiect change, we need to view science communication as a fundamen-
tal skill that we mach our students. A recent survey of the acoustics graduate programs
listed in the Acoustical Society of America Acoustics Program Directory determined
that although writing is informally part of the graduate education process, only 9% of
programs have required science writing courses (either technical, i.e., scienti.fic papers,
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