Pluto Fly By and other longterm projects

Pluto, from pluto.jhuapl.eduPluto FlyBy: A triumph of classical mechanics and modern technology. But no technological advance can make the transmission of images and data faster than the more than four hours required for light to travel from Pluto to Earth. And engineers and researchers have waited nine years for New Horizons to reach Pluto. For everyone following the #PlutoFlyBy, it is a vivid illustration of the patience and long time scales often involved in research, as well as of the intense collaboration bewteen many different experts.

Budding scientists and engineers are likely to be inspired by amazing projects, like the New Horizons Pluto Flyby – and last summer’s Rosetta rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko – but like the travel to Pluto or a comet, there is a long delay before an outcome, such as a possible career choice.

Assessing the impact of various science communication efforts must take time and many other factors into account, as was discussed during many sessions during this year’s  Ecsite annual conference “Food for thought” in Trento. The tweets from the conference are summarized at https://storify.com/Ecsite/.

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During one of the many exciting sessions Kevin Crowley talked about Caise – the Center for advancement of informal science education – and the aim for “a roadmap to place research in informal learning in learning sciences and ecosystems”. He emphasized that we need to do a better job of sharing and building on what we know, e.g. though the resources created, collected and shared at http://informalscience.org/.

The discussion of assessment of impact is also among those discussed in the relatively new, dedicated Journal of science communication.

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