This post is by Shayna Keyles, the Outreach Coordinator for Science Connected, a non-profit organization dedicated to make science accessible to everyone. One of their largest projects is the online magazine GotScience that reports latest science research and applications.
I have been working for this magazine over a year now on a volunteer basis to support its mission to educate and inform the public about science and its impact on society. The goal is to empower citizens to make environmentally sustainable choices.
Science is a broad term that covers numerous disciplines, from paleontology and particle physics to medicine and mechanical engineering. Nutritional recommendations, architectural limitations, and football-throwing specifications are all guided by science—as are birth, death, and everything in between. So where does Science Connected fit in with all that?
Science is vast, and for many around the world, it’s a foreign concept. Many factors contribute to its inaccessibility: teaching methods or curricula that are less than ideal; prohibitive expenses of higher learning; difficulties in understanding scientific concepts or applying them to real life. Reports and findings are frequently written with technical, jargon-filled language that can shut out even the most curious lay reader.
According to the National Science Foundation, only 21 percent of 12th grade students perform at or above grade level in science. While on the surface that sounds like 79 percent of students are just having difficulty solving chemical equations or reciting the Krebs cycle, it really means that over three-quarters of all 12th graders don’t have a firm enough grasp on the earth sciences to understand the causes of climate change or its harmful effects. It means that high schoolers don’t have sufficient understanding of what makes up the food they eat, how exercise helps the body, or how the reproductive system works.
That’s where Science Connected comes in. This nonprofit exists to make science more accessible by creating equal access to science education, responsible science journalism, and readily-available research. When science is accessible and available, science literacy goes up, and with increased science literacy comes a more informed, more engaged, and more responsible citizenry.
Access to science means many things:
- Easy-to-read, well-researched information
- Hands-on experiences that don’t require lab access or expensive materials
- Nearby science programs and activities within an engaged community
- Educational resources that bring more science into classrooms
Science Connected improves accessibility to science in all these areas. Through the organization’s flagship publication, GotScience Magazine, the team works closely with researchers, journalists, universities, and industry leaders to provide cutting-edge research findings to people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as publishing classroom materials for teachers to use for free.
As a member of the Citizen Science Association, Science Connected also promotes community-organized projects and independent experimentation. Crowdsourced research, individual experiments, and self-published materials are all essential contributions to greater science literacy.
Science Connected is running an IndieGogo campaign to expand its free online magazine, GotScience.org, and to continue making science more accessible to learners of all ages.
Running an open-access magazine requires writers, editors, bandwidth, and public relations, as well as ongoing relationships with science journalists, researchers, and media organizations. While many of the contributing writers and editors volunteer their time, donations are still important to maintain the organization’s infrastructure. Here’s what funds raised through the Indiegogo campaign will be used for:
- Membership in scientific organizations to make sure sources are all accurate
- Writing stipends for GotScience journalists and researchers
- Maintaining the Science Connected and GotScience websites
An assortment of thank-you gifts have been prepared for campaign supporters. For a donation of $5, you’ll get a social media shout-out. For $10 to $150, the range of gifts includes handwritten thank-you notes, exclusive photographic prints, stickers, mugs, and stainless steel water bottles. A $250 donation brings you all of the above and a highly visible, public thank-you on the website.
This is an incredibly important campaign, especially in this uncertain era of science skepticism, threats to public education, reduced funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, and an unfortunate distrust of expertise. With only a month of the campaign left, Science Connected needs to raise $3,000 to meet the goal. Every dollar helps. Your contribution doesn’t only help Science Connected—it helps everyone with a passion for learning about science.