Telling Your Story at WHOI: The beginning of a beautiful program

In January of 2004, twenty scientists gathered at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for the first Telling Your Story workshop. The workshop offered the scientists an opportunity to learn from educators how to talk to a younger audience about their work. The workshop was organized by TERC, a non-profit education research and development group from Cambridge, Mass. The facilitators included a scientist, a science educator, a science communication specialist, and a classroom teacher.

The workshop covered a range of issues from planning with teachers before the visit to how to handle an inappropriate question from a student. A concept-mapping exercise helped the scientists think about planning their presentations and targeting them to audiences of different ages. The discussion then focused on the visits themselves and how the scientists could best “tell their stories.” For example, the facilitators encouraged the scientists to talk a little bit about themselves and how they decided to become scientists. They discussed the importance of hooking the audiences early, staying on message, using visuals, and placing their talks in a larger context. The facilitators reminded the scientists that the best communicators are great storytellers, and that the scientists should strive to shape their talks into good stories.

Finally, the participants talked about how to gain access to schools, develop relationships with teachers, and get feedback about their presentations.

Because this was a pilot workshop, the participants were asked to fill out short evaluations and then to report on future classroom visits and any follow-up questions they might have. 


Reports from Pilot Program Participants

Scientists who participated in the pilot Telling Your Story workshop share their experiences in the articles below: