June 2013

Announcing the ASBMB Public Outreach Website

A new online resource for the outreach community

Do you have a fledgling outreach program that needs help to get up and running?
Check out our Outreach Seed Grant Program, proudly sponsored by the ASBMB Public Outreach Committee. Successful applicants receive up to $2,000 per year to establish programs in local communities. Applications are due Sept. 1. Click here for details and instructions.
“Rap” and “PBS” are not usually terms that share the same sentence.
microphone graphicSo when the media outlet announced a science rap contest, ASBMB just had to participate. Taking inspiration from our Experimental Biology 2013 mascot, Muhammad Allele, ASBMB staffers put together a video paying homage to the knockout mouse, and it won an honorable mention. Check out “Knockout Mouse in Ya House” and other videos on our YouTube channel:

When it comes to science outreach, one barrier to participation is a lack of information about how to get involved. The irony of this perceived deficit is that there is in fact an (over-)abundance of information available online; however, lacking proper curation, the endless sea of search-engine results can make potential participants feel lost.
 
To ameliorate this problem, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Outreach Committee, which aims to enhance the ability of ASBMB members to participate in science outreach, has been working to develop an outreach website that aggregates relevant information on existing outreach programs and resources for prospective and active participants. The website is intended to be an interactive domain – to be used, explored and maintained by anyone with an interest in outreach.
 
The site has several key features:
 
Informational resources
Ever wondered how to run your own science café? Curious about how to get financial support for your outreach program? The website has an ever-growing database of informational resources that serve to spread knowledge about all things outreach, such as ideas for outreach projects and how-to guides developed by the Public Outreach Committee. You also can find links to online outreach resources, such as Informal Commons (a massive compendium of outreach projects, materials and case studies), along with listings of other organizations that share ASBMB’s dedication to outreach, including the Science Festival Alliance and the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science. Also available is a list of funding sources from both the public and private sectors, which includes descriptions of outreach-oriented grant programs. Finally, the website homepage features a continually updated stream of outreach news.
 
Local outreach activities
Looking for outreach opportunities in your community? Go to our “Activities” page, which has a thorough, state-by-state listing of groups, institutions and outreach events complete with addresses and contact information, all gathered on an interactive map. You can zoom in on different locations, browse individual programs and jump from state to state, while the sidebar listing provides more in-depth details. Know of a program that is missing from the map? That is where the next section comes in.
 
Community
The most important aspect of the entire outreach website is the “Community” page. There, registered users can share ideas, discuss best practices and contribute their knowledge and resources. The “Community” page is designed as a wiki, meaning that users can create editable content to be distributed and viewed by the entire community. The committee’s goal for this section, and indeed the whole website, is to engender a dynamic, engaged community that provides educational resources and insightful feedback about all things outreach.
 
Additionally, users can upload their own outreach events, programs and activities, which will appear on both the “Activities” map and a sortable, state-by-state calendar available to registered users. This editing feature will ensure the website contains the most up-to-date information about ongoing outreach opportunities and permit interested individuals to identify and connect with peers in their communities. There is also a discussion forum that will keep the conversation going online.
 
Public Outreach Committee overview
To find out how the Public Outreach Committee works, take a look at the “About” pages, which provide overviews of the committee’s aims, vision and organization. There are also profiles of members of the Public Outreach Committee, including summaries of the outreach projects with which they are personally involved.
 
As the community grows, all these features will continue to improve. Moreover, as the Public Outreach Committee expands its programming, the website will serve as the central resource for members of the ASBMB community who are involved with outreach, connecting them to others in the field.
 
However, this website will reach its full potential only when there is full buy-in from the entire ASBMB community. The committee invites you to check out the features and let us know what you think. We welcome (and expect) feedback so that the site can be as useful and helpful as possible.
 
So go online, sign up and become part of the discussion!

Geoff HuntGeoff Hunt (ghunt@asbmb.org) is ASBMB’s outreach coordinator. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/goodbyeshoe.

 

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