Date of this Version
Journal of Chemical Education (2017) 94: 1918-1924. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00070. Also available at https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00070.
Attracting a general audience to STEM topics can be a challenge, and developing engaging and interactive instruction is important for educators in all fields. While many chemical educators have successfully used pop-culture themes to introduce their students to scientific concepts, these encounters are largely limited to formal classroom environments. Inspired by the successes of community science programs such as Science Café and Nerd Nite, science educators from two Nebraska campuses sought to broaden the exposure of their pop-culture themed class lectures, and created the SciPop Talks! program. Now entering its fifth year, this informal educational outreach program has become a model of faculty/librarian partnerships and successful campus outreach. In this article, we discuss the program’s formation, outline its strengths and challenges, and stress the importance of using interactivity to engage with learners. We report on findings from a survey of our attendees, which revealed surprising differences along gender lines. By sharing the motivations, strategies, operational specifics, outcomes, and future goals, we hope that scientists, science educators, outreach coordinators, and librarians will be inspired to launch their own SciPop Talks! programs.