Event review: Science Engagement in Tasmania event in Hobart

Thanks to Sarah Bayne, Inspiring Australia Project Officer Tasmania for writing this event review. Apologies from Ed. it didn’t make the May Scope issue. 

On April 17 and 18 the University of Tasmania hosted the Science Engagement in Tasmania event in Hobart. This event attracted more than 50 people to the seminar session on the first day and more than 30 participants to each of two skills development workshops on the second day.

Inspiring Australia Program manager, Simon France, started off the session with an overview of activity going on at the national level, highlighting the leadership role that Inspiring Australia are playing by promoting a unified science engagement strategy. Local Inspiring Australia Officer, Sarah Bayne, followed with a presentation outlining how the Inspiring Australia initiative is being rolled out on the ground in Tasmania.

The audience also heard from Dr Diana Nahodil from the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts who spoke about the state government’s Science Engagement Program, from Jeannie Marie Le Roi, Tasmania’s  National Science Week Coordinating Committee Chair for the previous ten years, who spoke of the past successes and future opportunities that National Science Week affords science communicators, and from UWA’s Associate Professor Nancy Longnecker, who commented on both the potential for a local ASC branch as well as Inspiring Australia’s  National Evaluation project.

As well as providing a fantastic opportunity for sharing information amongst Tasmania’s considerable network of science communicators, the seminar gave participants a rare opportunity to network and exchange ideas. Every major research organisation in Tasmania was represented at this event along with many others working in smaller organisations, in industry and in education, so this was a unique opportunity for making contacts and sharing experiences.

On the second day Associate Professor Nancy Longnecker held two workshop sessions where participants were able to gain from her valuable experience and knowledge. The first session, “Effective Science Communication: how do you know if you’ve had any impact?” explored how science communicators can effectively set objectives and develop strategies for evaluating impact. The second session explored techniques for making media-friendly stories. Participants worked in groups on their current communication efforts to achieve practical outcomes from the session, so hopefully we’ll be seeing some extra great science stories hitting the local media soon!

As a result of the networking that happened at the Science Engagement in Tasmania event, we  now have our very own Facebook group called ‘Tasmanian Science Communicators’ to help the community stay in touch and there is talk of setting up a much needed  local branch of ASC- so watch this space……