Tell me what I want to hear…

Friday, May 12th, 2017 | EMILY HALL | No Comments

OUASSA 2017 students have been working towards a presentation to the public at the Otago Museum which will take place on July 14th. The research for their presentations are in full swing and things should be starting to come together for their presentations. Some recent experiences have reminded me of the importance not only of researching your topic, but of evaluating the information that you find.

Evaluating the information you find is especially important when researching topics that are emotional or controversial, where people are inclined to have opinions based on anecdotal evidence from the world around them. Many of the topics that are being researched for presentations in July fall into this category. People feel very strongly about topics like Climate Change, Genetic Modification and Medicine in the Third World. It is important in a presentation to the public that you are presenting the science behind the issue and relying on provable facts rather than popular (or unpopular) opinion.

The internet is a great place for research because you can very quickly find a lot of information. The downside though is that unlike a book or a research publication, anyone can put information on the internet without any verification that it is actually true, and present it as fact.

For that reason, it is very important when you are researching to make sure that you evaluate the sources that you are using. Although after researching, you may have formed a personal opinion on the issue, it is important that when researching, you are looking at unbiased information based on fact (or at least that you are conscious of the bias and are looking at the information with that in mind).

The library have produced a nice little reference for evaluating internet sources using the acronym BAD URL. You can find a copy here. How_to_Evaluate_Websites

If you want to really dig deeply into how to evaluate sources, this is an e-learning module produced by the University library designed to help you learn about different types of information sources and how to evaluate them.

In July, the students will be having a presentation on “What your brain does when you’re not looking.” Unconsciously, we all are influenced by our bias and frame the world through our own experiences. It is important to make sure we are aware of this and do as much as possible to limit bias in our work and promote impartiality.

Dancing about Science…

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 | EMILY HALL | No Comments

Fun, interactive, and engaging Science?

I was looking at some research into Science shows and came across some key findings on how to engage children from Science Museum (UK) focus group research undertaken in 2010:
• Audience participation is regarded as crucial – if children aren’t involved, they may lose interest.
• Parents like young, casually-dressed presenters, rather than the stereotypical white-coated ‘nerd’; they feel an informal approach is important in removing barriers to children’s appreciation of shows.
• The three words they felt would most attract their attention in descriptions of the show were Fun, Exciting and Interactive

For this week’s blog post, I tried to look for some novel ideas on how to present Science to an audience. Keeping in mind those ideas from the focus group on keeping it fun, exciting, and interactive.

One really amazing thing I found was Biology for the blind and partially sighted. Using 3D printing to bring the microscopic world to people who otherwise wouldn’t have any experience of it. Definitely worth watching, especially the audience reactions to being able to interact with the microscopic world for the first time in their lives!

For another novel presentation method, check out this TED talk about dancing scientific concepts which includes, among other cool things, a great example of the difference between ordinary light and lasers using dancers. The 2016 winners of the contest that he mentions “Dance your PhD” are also worth a look. I particularly liked the people’s choice award winner.

I have already shared with you what I think of as some good examples of story telling in Science Communication in a recent blog post on storytelling.

I also emailed the students some examples of one person’s use of music as Science Communication.

Videos are a very popular way to get the message across and the students had a tiny taste of this in the January camp Science Communication sessions. Videos don’t have to be hugely costly high technical productions to be effective, some of the best videos are really simple, for example, Minute Physics.

So hopefully that has given you a bit of inspiration to think outside the box for your presentations. Whether you present your information in the form of a song, a story, a video, a show, a play or something else, using a novel presentation method is one way to keep it fun, exciting and interactive.

For 2013 Academy Students – where we’re going with KF

Friday, March 1st, 2013 | EMILY HALL | No Comments

Well done for the contributions you have made to our start-up activity in Knowledge Forum on three global problems.  Many of you are doing a great job structuring well written posts which have created discussion and further questioning amongst your peers. Many of you are also trying hard to use the PQP approach and you will soon begin to see that this method of structuring answers is a useful tool to master, not just in Knowledge Forum. Remember that when proposing something that builds on the post you should provide evidence that supports your proposition. This can be a link supporting information, a news item, magazine article, video clip or another post.

To date you have been building knowledge on 3 global problems. Shortly we will move our focus closer to home – to your Project subjects. First, however we would like you to pull together what you have learned in each of these global views by posting a`Synthesis View’ as outlined below:

         `My     Synthesis’ of Global Problem View Discussions 2013

Task: You are each to make to a New Note (titled `My Synthesis’) that pulls together the knowledge you have gained from our knowledge building community discussion on at least one the three Global Problem Views:

  • Climate Change: Let the Science Speak!
  • 21st Century Energy & Food Demands
  • Global Wealth & 21st Century Science

We have added a new set of scaffolds entitled ‘My Synthesis’ to help you do this. Use some or all these scaffolds to help you.

In your synthesis we’d like you to outline:

  • What you have learned from these discussions
  • Highlight the most important idea(s) developed in this community
  • How the knowledge building discussion has impacted on your understanding of the topic of study.   

Post your synthesis as a New Note titled `My Synthesis’ within the relevant `View’

This task should take you no more than 30 minutes.

Date Due:  March 10th

Every `synthesis’ posted goes in draw for 1 of 5 I-Tunes/Warehouse vouchers!

1. Time frame 

  • Global Views Synthesis:        25th February –10th March
  • New Project A Views:            March 11th to April 19th
  • Project A Views Synthesis:   April 20th – May 5th 

The three Global views will remain open for the rest of the year so feel free to contribute any good ideas, resources, thoughts at any time. However, from March 11th we would like you to focus primarily on your Project A views (Maths, Physics, Geography or Zoology).  We will shortly post a starting view for each of these project groups with the help of your project leaders. These you will individually be building on, the same way as you have been doing with the Global problem views. You are free to contribute to any of the project views. You will then have two weeks to you synthesize and consolidate the ideas and knowledge you have taken from community’s contributions.

We will then move onto your Project B group (Biochemistry/Genetics, Chemistry, Computer Science or Marine Science) and repeat the exercise with four views on these projects. The synthesis and consolidation phase for these projects will take place in the lead up to the Winter Science camp in July.

2.  Commitment/expectations

As outlined in the January camp as part of OUASSA 2013 we expect you to be contributing to Knowledge Forum on a weekly to fortnightly basis. At least one post per week would be brilliant! Emily and I check Knowledge Forum very regularly and read your posts. Occaisionally we will post ourselves. However, our role is to guide the discussion and sometimes present useful links – not to provide `answers. You are the `knowledge builders’!

3.  Trouble shooting

The login page for knowledge forum is at
Remember to use the ‘Enhanced’ version of the software where possible and to select ‘OUASSA-2013’ from the Database drop-down box

If you are having any problems logging into Knowledge Forum, remembering your user name or password, or have any general questions, please contact us right away:
Email:  Ph: 03 3793496 Ph: 03 4799204
Also, please don’t forget to be checking the OUASSA Resource Page for useful resources:
We try to add to this page regularly with at least one useful link/resource.  Please feel free to send me any useful links that you would recommend or you can post them yourselves on comments box.

Anything else we can help you with?  Email us… we are here to support and help you reach your full science potential.

Kind regards – The OUASSA Team
Steve Broni (Director)
Emily Hall    (Science Teaching Co-ordinator)