Announcing our new Science Communication Teacher Training Program at the MDC (SCOTT) 

Aims

SCOTT is a new program aimed primarily at advanced career stage scientists with excellent (near native) English and solid writing and presentation skills. The goals are to:

  • help participants develop additional professional qualifications as science communication trainers, teachers, writers, etc.;
  • produce a group of highly trained, excellent teachers to act as multipliers at the MDC and beyond;
  • serve as a unique model program to promote the institutionalization of excellent science communication training.

Who are we looking for?

Initially we will establish a group of 10-12 trainees who will work together as a team for one year. Priority will be given to postdocs and advanced career stage scientists at the MDC, although we will consider exceptional candidates with other qualifications and from other institutes. We also invite applicants from other fields of natural science, data science, informatics, etc.

What does the program entail?

Participants will need to make a long-term commitment and be prepared to devote about 3 days per month to the project (not as a block). Papers, presentations, grants or other projects they are working on with their own groups will count as part of this time. Activities will include seminars, observations of courses, outside assignments, and teaching. The program is divided into 3 phases:

  • Seminars, observation, and discussions to provide a solid theoretical introduction to practices and problems in scientific communication, didactics and learning styles. The group will hone their own science communication skills, observe ongoing courses in a range of skill areas, discuss and deconstruct the teaching, and creatively brainstorm to improve the theory and methodology. We will work on lesson plans together and feed new ideas into the next cycle of courses.
  • In the second phase, participants will take over the teaching of some modules of ongoing courses themselves, with supervision by the instructor, observation by colleagues and sessions for constructive feedback afterwards.
  • In the third phase participants will begin teaching independently with support from the instructor and the group. We will present the program through lectures, demonstrations and group workshops, at the MDC and other organizations, to engage the community. “Graduates” will help recruit and work with the next class of trainers, export the model to their future institutes, and become the basis of a network that will continue to work together over the long term.

The first 4 months will mainly involve meetings of whole or half-days, spread at intervals through the month, and outside assignments. Later the schedule will be more flexible; participants will be able to choose from a range of modules to attend and teach. We will work together on lesson plans and develop a range of innovative teaching materials. We will also invite external experts to enhance the program with talks and workshops.

During the later phases, participants will teach in ongoing courses, take part in other projects, and be encouraged to develop workshops and courses around their own scientific topics, communication activities and needs. The project will offer special types of support to the participants’ home labs, such as customized workshops and help with projects such as papers, theses, and presentations.

Table of initial dates and activities

MeetingDateTopic
Meeting 1 (full day)April 4   Theory and aims
Meeting 2 (half day)April 26Observation and analysis
Meeting 3 (full day)May 12  Observation & didactic workshop (student orientation)

What do we hope to achieve?

This work is based on an established theoretical background and teaching model which needs to be refined, improved, and expanded. As a group we will collect experience, improve the program, develop original teaching methods and materials and produce a handbook for future trainers.  We will enhance current training structures at the MDC and on campus by offering more support to students and scientists, developing content for the Long Night of Sciences and other events, and producing games, teaching materials for schools, etc.

The program will be extremely transparent, open to group leaders, scientists and other staff at the MDC as observers or participants at any time. We will support your work by offering customized workshops and helping develop communication and education modules for grants or institutional projects. Contact the program if you are interested.

Over the long term we will offer lectures and demonstration courses to other institutes and organizations within the Helmholtz Association and beyond, to promote the wider institutionalization of this model of training.

If you are interested or have questions, please contact Russ Hodge directly, at hodge@mdc-berlin.de.

As a part of registration, we will set up an individual appointment to discuss details of the program and your individual interests and needs.

Published by

russhodge

I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/ghosts-models-and-meaning-in-science/

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