Westminster College – BIO300 B course announcement

Course Announcement

Science Outreach: Public Understanding of Science

BIO 300 B

Hannah Alexander – Visiting Associate Professor, Biology & environmental sciences

Michael Amspoker – Professor, Biology and environmental Sciences

Fall semester 2011 – Tuesdays and Thursdays 8-9:15 AM

Coulter Science Center 227

3 credit hours

This course is aimed to promote public understanding and appreciation of science. Each student will develop a presentation and deliver the presentation to adult audiences in different venues around the community (independent living facilities, public libraries).

The “Science and Me” series of presentations highlights in lay-language the role of scientific research in advances in medicine, the food we eat, the hi-tech items we use, the way we approach aging problems, environmental management and more.  The talks emphasize that these accomplishments are the results of the cumulative work of many scientists all over the world, who work to understand basic phenomena, to share their knowledge between different scientific disciplines, and to help translate that knowledge to the pharmacy, the bedside, the food industry, the farming industry, factories, urban planning and government policies.

In the past three years, participating students gave 103 presentations to  over a 1,000 attendees, and the responses were very positive.  Examples of topics and information about the program can be found on the website at http://scienceandme.org.

The course is divided into 3 parts.  In Part I each student develops one topic.  Students are paired with faculty mentors, who guide them through building the presentation.  Class time is devoted to general discussions about science outreach, interaction with the elderly, the use of power point and the making of a good presentation.  In Part II the students deliver the presentations to the class for feedback and analysis of their efficacy, interest, and impact.  In Part III the students speak to real audiences, as well as generate an instructional manual for their presentations.

Through the process of preparing the presentation in class and interacting with a personal faculty mentor, as well as giving the presentations, the students gain the necessary scientific knowledge related to their subject of choice, learn effective methods of teaching science and science appreciation to a variety of audiences, and practice working hand-in-hand with members of the scientific community and the community at large.


Hannah Alexander                                                                                                                               Michael Amspoker

Alexanderh@missouri.edu Mike.Amspoker@westminster-mo.edu