A proposal for innovation in the social communication of science

Aránzazu Castano Tabara - Spain

Creative, committed and curious, I keep learning from how many tasks I undertake in the personal and professional fields. I have been living in Toledo (Spain) for more than fifteen years, all of them dedicated to institutional or corporate communication. I studied Journalism and then History. Now I prepare my doctorate for personal growth. I do scientific volunteering, I love reading and traveling. Communication Technician at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM), since 2005, in 2017 I founded Ciencia a la Carta. I also work as a freelance in communication advice. I have a degree in Information Science (Journalism) and another degree in History. I am currently studying my PhD in History and Archeology. I am competent in public speaking, research, writing, strategic planning, public relations, knowledge of the environment, personal brand management, digitalisation and foreign languages.


Session introduction

Ciencia a la Carta is an independent and non-profits association backed by more than 50 scientist and researchers linked to several institutions. We are dedicated to the promotion of scientific culture and critical thinking, with special attention to diversity and the role of women in science.

We have explored traditional channels and new environments to reach more audiences. We have also been pioneers in using other codes to amplify our message. As an example of progressive adaptation, we offer the children’s workshop ‘Magic or Science’ in which, through play and surprise, we want the participants to understand the scientific method and the need to apply critical thinking in all circumstances of life.


Session in-depth

To communicate science we have explored TRADITIONAL CHANNELS: social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Linkedin, Ivoox) and face-to-face actions in educational, cultural, social centers, etc. We went one step further by promoting new formats in radio and television: CienciaTres, a conventional radio space adapted to podcast, and Ciencia a la Carta Play, a television program with a transmedia nature.

The jump occurred when accessing NEW ENVIRONMENTS to reach more audiences:

1. Pubs. We are responsible for the implementation in Toledo of Pint of Science International Festival for Scientific Dissemination.

2. Toledo´s Patios. We have been the first to talk about science in the patios of Toledo, unique and characteristic spaces of the traditional architecture of Hispanic-Muslim heritage, around which community life is articulated.

3. The street. We have been pioneers in bringing science to the streets and squares of the city, organising the first scientific walk through the historic quarter of Toledo and the first public little fair about engineering and the new automotive.

We have also been pioneers in using OTHER CODES to amplify our message. Our talks and workshops focused to the general public are opened to the deaf people community through a Spanish sign language interpreter specialized in science communication. As an example of progressive adaptation, we offer the children's workshop “Magic or Science” in which, through play and surprise, we want the participants to understand the scientific method and the need to apply critical thinking in all circumstances of life.

The guiding line is the story of the witch Vanadia (me), who is performing her “tricks” before the stunned eyes of children until a person emerges from the audience, María José Ruiz (PhD in Chemistry), who doubts of the magical nature of what happens there, then she identifies herself as scientific and, with the help of children, analyzes the witch's speech following the steps of the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, experimentation and conclusion.

• For children with learning difficulties, the main need for adaptation is practically satisfied by the experimental nature of the workshop, which does not imply the use of reading, writing and calculation.

• For deaf children the work is adapted with interpretation in sign language and enhancing the visual, tactile and olfactory aspects of the experiments.

• For children and adolescents with Down syndrome we have asked for the technical advice of associations related to this issue. In addition to greatly simplifying the processes and dividing the reasoning into small stages, we have designed and produced panels with pictograms to help them to fix the attention and get a better understanding of the necessary steps of the application of the scientific method, as well as the observed phenomena.

• For children with high intellectual abilities, characterized by a high level of creativity and intelligence, we have complemented the initial story with new experiments and high-level explanations, as long as the participants make advanced deductions and connect everything they discover with the curricular contents and with your personal interests.

The CONCLUSION is that there is a social demand for scientific leisure by children and adults and, besides, people with some type of need for adaptation have the right to enjoy it on equal terms. We have also noted the demystifying effect that alternative spaces have: people access to scientific knowledge without suspicion when it is offered outdoors or in leisure or family environments, out of conventional frameworks in which science is usually discussed. They value our ability to communicate in all carefree without sacrificing rigor and precision.

At Ciencia a la Carta we try to respond to this request and adapt our workshops to different groups. Broadly, the adaptations made have made possible achievement of the main objectives of the project, bringing science closer to everyone, especially those with more difficulties to access to it, and helping to enhance critical thinking among children and adults without forgetting the perspective of genre. To make my presentation interactive, I will develop some of the experiments of “Magic or Science” workshop with the participation of the public.