Science Communication Teacher Training program (SCOTT)
What we are doing goes far beyond just teaching scientists essential skills as communicators and teachers. The tools of communication can help scientists become better thinkers and do better research, which adds value to their careers and the institute as a whole.
SCOTT is a new program at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin, 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, editors, etc., by giving them the theoretical background and skills to be multipliers;
- serve as a unique model program to encourage other organizations to institutionalize in-house, excellent science communication training;
- develop unique new projects in science communication and teaching: books, courses, teaching materials, games, etc.
The first “class” of SCOTT is finishing soon and we have accomplished some great things. We are making a “board game” about molecular biology and a popular science book about unusual model organisms. (We have just submitted two grants that may provide funding for those projects.) We are designing new courses on “Coping with Talk Anxiety” and “How to Read a Paper,” have helped prepare graduate schools and the institute for important reviews, and are working on several other projects.
Now we are accepting applicants for the second “class,” which will start in April 2023 and run until June 2024.
Who are we looking for?
SCOTT 2.0 will be open to 15 scientist/trainees. Priority will be given to postdocs and advanced career stage scientists at the MDC, although we will consider PhD students and exceptional candidates with other qualifications and from other institutes. We also welcome applicants from other fields – other natural sciences, data science, informatics, etc. The first group included an artist who has worked on projects bridging art and science.
What does the program involve?
Participants will need to make a long-term commitment and be prepared to attend the seminar, which meets for one full day per month. They should count on spending at least one additional day outside, working on SCOTT projects. 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 co-teach modules of ongoing courses themselves, with supervision, observation by colleagues and sessions for constructive feedback afterwards.
- In the third phase participants will think up and complete a communication/teaching project and begin teaching independently with support from the instructor and the group. We will also present the program through lectures, demonstrations and group workshops, at the MDC and elsewhere, to inform and 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.
SCOTT 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.
Seminar days for 2023:
April 14, May 5, June 2, July 7, Aug. 4, Oct. 6, Nov. 3, Dec. 1
What do we hope to achieve?
Excellent communication training can add value to an institute by improving not only the skills of its scientists but also their research. This work is based on an established theoretical background and teaching methodology, but it can still 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, the Gläsernes Labor and other venues, and producing games, teaching materials for schools, etc.
The program will be extremely transparent. Group leaders, scientists and other staff at the MDC are welcome as observers or participants at any time. In return, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a part of registration, we will set up an individual appointment to discuss details of the program and your individual interests and needs.