Telling a science story: Industry and science engagement

Thank you to Julia Martin for preparing this piece.

Metaphor, visualisation and allegory are hardly the terms you’d expect business people to use when talking about science. But according to the industry insiders, imagination and story-telling are invaluable tools for anyone serious about communicating scientific knowledge to the public, employees and potential investors.

Recent reports from the Royal Academy of Engineers in the United Kingdom and the Australian Department of Industry’s Inspiring Australia Science Engagement Strategy describe the science outreach needs of business and industry. The surprise is that even in science-based enterprises like mining, industry insiders report that inspiration is as important as information when talking about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Business sees the value of science engagement in terms of corporate social responsibility, employee satisfaction and positive local relationships, as well as brand awareness. And while some may be cynical about such motivations, the pressures on businesses to mitigate risk mean that science engagement is often less about spin and more about building a positive operating environment.  As one industry leader commented, not doing science engagement can have far higher costs to a business than working openly and long-term with the community.

Relationships and networks, especially individual relationships, carry great weight in the communication of science in business settings. In Inspiring Industry to Inspire Australia: Business and Science Outreach, Peter Bury of the Australian Plastics and Chemicals Association points out that PACIA has been able to progress industry initiatives faster than in some countries with larger economies. He cites industry peaks as being an ideal way to translate the latest research into best practice, with members looking to their representative body for reliable scientific advice.

Personal links allow business to ‘put faces to the science’, and these links can endure for decades. Some of the most long-standing industry-science communication partnerships in Australia, such as the Shell Questacon Science Circus, rely on partnerships forged by individuals as far back as the early 1980s. In representative bodies like the University of New South Wales Science Advisory Council, industry members place high value on meeting scientists directly and sharing knowledge. For business, learning how scientists think lays important foundations for future partnerships, and ideally, a more science-friendly business world.

A panel of industry experts will be discussing these themes and their own experiences of business and industry-driven science engagement in the session Business and industry communities and controversy what role does science communication play in public engagement? at the Australian Science Communicators National Conference in Brisbane, on 3 February, 2014.

Please comment below, or email claireharris.oz [at] or use #ASC14 on Twitter if you have a question for our panel: Suzanne Miller (Chief Executive Officer and Director, Queensland Museum Network), Kurt Heidecker (CEO of the Gladstone Industry Leadership Group), Geoff Brooke (Co-founder and Managing Partner of GBS Venture Partners), Jacqui McGill (Asset President of BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal) and Jason Prior (Research Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney). (The session will be facilitated by Julia Martin and is co-produced by Claire Harris and Julia Martin.)

ASC 2014 workshops and activities

The ASC2014 Program Committee is excited to announce that there are new optional workshops and activities available for conference delegates. Spaces are limited:

  • Sunday 2nd February: Community Storytelling Series, Part 1

Telling stories with images using smart phones and tablets. A free 3 hour afternoon workshop for delegates only [times to be confirmed] Facilitated by Susan Rooney-Harding and hosted by The Edge [limited to the first 40 RSVPs]

Everyone has a story to tell, and a community to whom that story is relevant. Our Community Storytelling Series is designed to give you the confidence and know-how to tell your stories using the tools you already have at hand your iPad, iPhone and other smart phones and tablets. Join Susan Rooney-Harding in the first of this three part series to hone your story capturing and story sharing skills. Keep an eye out for the remaining two workshops in the series being released soon:

  • Wednesday 5th February: Community Storytelling Series, Part 2

The art and practice of story capturing. A free 3 hour workshop for delegates during the conference.

  • Thursday 6th February: Community Storytelling Series, Part 3

iPad/iPhone movie making using your iPads and iPhones. A one day post-conference workshop [times to be confirmed] Facilitated by Susan Rooney-Harding and hosted by The Edge [limited to the first 20 RSVPs]

Susan Rooney-Harding, Creative Director/Producer of Inspireevery1 Production Susan Rooney-Harding is the Creative Director and Multimedia Producer of Inspireevery1 Production. She has vast experience in community storytelling and has equipped multiple communities and individuals with the skills to create digital content for multiplatform use. Prior to this role she was the ABC Open Producer for the Riverland in South Australia. Content that she created with her community has been seen on News 24, Landline, ABC Online, ABC Open and ABC Rural. Susan is an active board member and the Multimedia Director for Women in Technology and Innovation and is this years TEDx Adelaide Women licensee.

  • Monday 3rd February: Speed networking session brought to you by ASC’s SEQ branch and the University of Queensland, on the ABC Balcony from 8pm. Free for delegates only.
[limited to the first 80 RSVPs]

To RSVP for these events you simply need to log into the delegate portal using your access key. Click the Edit button next to Other Activities to view and select available optional activities at this time.

If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Conference Office by email  General event information and access can be found at

ScienceRewired – Looking at science from new digital perspectives

Posted by Jesse Shore for Joanne Sinclair:

ScienceRewired was launched at the Science Exchange in Adelaide on 11th October 2012. The Science Exchange was a fantastic venue with great facilities. The building is a beautiful mix of old and new – huge screens in the auditorium (perfect for Skype presentations) and glorious stained glass windows. It was an inspiring place to spend a day in.

As a Science Communicator from the Parenting Research Centre in Melbourne I was looking for interesting examples of science engagement and I wasn’t disappointed.

Highlights included presentations about citizen science platforms such as the Atlas of Living Australia, Skynet and Foldit. I was particularly impressed with the way these organisations encouraged and rewarded participants and communicated results to them. They did this in various ways such as with leader boards, digital trophies and video blogs. In one case some Foldit players who helped to create a novel protein structure were senior authors on a paper in Nature.

Another highlight was hearing about the Serval project from Paul Gardner-Stephen. Paul’s team is working on free open source software that helps mobile phones talk to each other independently, without mobile networks and infrastructure. This has huge implications for disaster relief and remote communities. I found this very interesting as the Parenting Research Centre has projects where we are working with indigenous communities in remote areas.

There are two things that I’d like in a future event;

  1. A session or event on using Twitter, blogs, live streaming etc. for professional development and networking. It seems like there’s massive potential for this, especially as science communicators often work alone. As a Twitter newbie, I’d love a science communicator to guide me around Twitter and show me who they follow. This would give me practical ideas and tips that I could use in my work.
  2. Discussion on whether using digital platforms works, that is, is it working to engage people and change their behaviour? Also, how to measure and research what works.

Joanne Sinclair won a free ticket to attend ScienceRewired, courtesy of the ASC. The Parenting Research Centre kindly covered travel and accommodation costs.

Social media workshop – Brisbane event

22 May 2012
6:00 pmto7:00 pm

Science-­‐connect a FREE workshop on science communication through social media
Are you interested in using social media to communicate science?

Is social media part of your job as a science communicator?

Come along to the Science-­‐connect workshop and learn more about:

  • Applying social media in science communication
  • Engaging and keeping the attention of your target audience
  • Determining if your social media applications are effective

Receive feedback on your use of social media applications from experts in the field:

  • Paul Goldston from Reload Media (
  • Elliot Franks from the social media research team at Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (formerly DEEDI)

When: Tuesday 22 May, 6-7:00pm, before The Big Snapshot of Australian Science Engagement
Where: The Story Bridge Hotel, Kangaroo Point
Entry: Free. Drinks and finger foods provided

For all enquiries please email:

Queensland science communicators, we want you!

22 May 2012
6:00 pmto8:30 pm

The Big Snapshot of Australian Science Engagement – Brisbane Event

How are we engaging people with science in Australia, and how do we do it better?

The ASC with Bridge8 and Econnect Communication are creating a high definition picture of Australian science engagement. This is your chance to contribute right at the start.

The new project is funded by the Australian government’s Inspiring Australia Strategy to gather information about the who, what, where, when, why and how we communicate science.

It will be a fast paced session, led by Jenni Metcalfe, Director of Econnect Communication. Your input and ideas will help shape a forthcoming national survey of science engagement activities.

Learn more about the project.

When: Tuesday 22 May, 7-8:30pm, right after Science-connect – social media workshop
Where: The Story Bridge Hotel, Kangaroo Point
Entry: Free. Drinks and finger foods provided

The 2nd Annual National Science Communication Officers’ Forum 2011

23 August 2011 11:00 amto24 August 2011 11:00 am

22-24 November 2011 (tentative)
Citigate Central, Sydney

Essential Tools and Approaches for Developing Communication Strategies within Scientific and Technical Research Environments

• Applying Innovative Strategies for Dealing with the Media
• Negotiating the Science Communication Spectrum for Better Results
• Maintaining Scientific Integrity
• Communicating Complex Information with Creativity

Science communication has changed in recent times with the ever-growing use of online media, adding an exciting yet challenging dimension to the communication process. Communicating strategies may have to be changed or adjusted because of new media, which can be particularly daunting when applied to complex science or technical content.

In this forum, science communication professionals will showcase, debate and discuss their experiences in communicating science to diverse audiences. Issues that are key to tackling science communication effectively will be explored and examples of professional best practice will be given.

This event will maintain its tradition of being an exciting and highly interactive platform for networking and gaining new insights into a high-level of professional practice. It provides practicality though a variety of real-life examples of how to enhance work performance.

Featured speakers come from a range of organizations and backgrounds including public and private sector, higher education, media and represent the varied market and roles of Science Communication.

Directors, Managers and Officers in the Private, Public, and Education Sectors responsible for:
• Science Communication
• Corporate Communication
• Communication and Marketing
• Communication and Public Affairs
• Technical Communication
• Research and Development

Click here to view the brochure;

ASC Members receive a 10% discount off the standard registration fee.
For more information;
Visit Liquid Learning’s website at:
Phone: (02) 9437 1311

National Science Communication Officers’ Forum – Liquid Learning’s second annual event

ASC is supporting Liquid Learning’s second annual National Science Communication Officers’ Forum postponed from 23-24 August 2011 in Sydney, Citigate Central to 22-24 November 2011 (note that these are tentative dates).

This is a well structured professional development event with networking opportunities and has an impressive range of speakers including several ASC members.

A selection of the key topics covered: Social media, Inspiring Australia, Partnerships, Bridging the gap between high-level science and communicating to a broader public, Evaluating.

Liquid Learning offers a 10% discount off standard registration fee to all current ASC members.

Jesse Shore
National President

ASCSA media training workshop 6 Sept- Adelaide

6 September 2010
6:00 pmto9:00 pm

Australian Science Communicators SA Event ASCSA media training workshop With Rob Morrison Date: Monday 6 September Time: 6pm-9pm Venue: RiAus Main Auditorium The Science Exchange Exchange Place Adelaide Bookings: at Cost: Free to ASCSA members, non-members $40, Students $25. Payment at the door please. Workshop limited to 40 people.

What may be very important in science may still not be considered newsworthy by the media. The media have their own priorities, and it can be difficult to get media coverage for stories about scientific issues that are important but complex, or threatening, or lacking in visual possibilities, or are not in tune with journalistic misconceptions. A science story is often just not eye-catching enough to make past an editor amongst a mountain of “more” newsworthy stories. So a different approach is needed. This workshop will introduce critical issues in the preparation of a science research story for the media, whether it be a media release or a radio or TV interview. You will get to write, practice and discuss how this can be done, with Rob Morrison, one of the most experienced science communicators in Australia. He has 40 years of experience under his belt as a TV and radio broadcaster, 34 science and natural history books, with 13 more co-authored, and dozens of articles He has also won many national and international awards, including two Eureka Prizes, one being the Australian Government Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science, the Michael Daley Award for Science Journalism, and the inaugural SA South Australian Government award for Excellence in Science Communication. In 2004, he was awarded the Order of Australia for Science Communication and Conservation. Who better to cover such ground? Please email if you need further information. You will be sent the workshop agenda on registration. _______________________________________________ ASC-list mailing list

Climate change workshops – special offer for ASC

Starting this August is a wonderful opportunity for professional development for those working in the area of climate change communication, policy, education and engagement:
Communicating Climate Change Workshop Series

  • Workshop 1: Communicating the Science with Jenni Metcalfe (11 August 2010)
  • Workshop 2: Communicating the Story with Sohail Inayatullah (25 August 2010)
  • Workshop 3: Communicating for Action with Kath Fisher (8 September 2010)

ASC has collaborated with The International Association for Public Participation Australasia and the Sydney Environmental Educators Network to present this series of three innovative workshops with three leading practitioners during August and September 2010. There is a substantial discount for members of these organisations to attend the sessions. Spaces are limited and if you are keen to attend book now. You can book for the entire series or for individual workshops.

The series is designed for anyone working in the area of climate change communication, policy, education and engagement and is hosted by the Powerhouse Museum as part of the Ultimo Science Festival.

Cost: $110 for IAP2, AAEE and ASC members, students and NGOs (incl GST), $220 other non-members (incl GST)
Venue: Powerhouse Museum, Board Room

Book today – don’t miss out. Go to for information and to register (scroll through the Events page to August 2010 and September; IAP2 NSW – Communicating Climate Change – Workshop…). The workshops are three hours long and there are two sessions each day.

Follow this link to view the flyer of the workshop series: Climate change workshop flyer

Jesse Shore