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The Sciences

Social Media Transforms Parents into Science Heroes

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJanuary 31, 2011 8:21 PM

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This is a guest post composed as part of theNSF Science: Becoming the Messenger workshop, Lawrence KS January 28, 2011 Someone told me that social media sites are not useful to scientists, because they're a haven of stay-at-home moms. Later that night as I was catching up with my friends on Twitter, it dawned on me that stay-at-home moms are an amazing audience to reach through social media for a couple of reasons. First, they are incredible shaping forces in early childhood because they spend much of their time interacting with their kids. Secondly, parents are the ones who have the time to take their kids to the science museum, to help them with science fair, to dig in the backyard for fossils, explain why the sky is blue, or get involved in citizen science. In order to reach these parents and influence them to become kids’ first science heroes, we have to be willing to package science in understandable and accessible bites. Most parents do not have the time to sort through all of my data and run the kids to soccer practice, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in what scientists do or what we know. They just need the data digested into a usable format that allows them to be the expert within their families. For example, EarthCache could make moving across the country to a new duty station more interesting and less taxing for military families. It allows parents to turn a week-long car ride into a memorable geocaching adventure. It also provides a way for kids to connect to a new community and environment as many of these geocaches are located in our own backyards. All of these things can help military spouses ease the transition to a new place for themselves and their kids. Military families are major consumers of social media, tools like EarthCache just need to be easier for them to find. I believe I am a scientist today because my mother was my science heroine in earliest childhood. I remember how awed I felt, when she stood with me staring up through the rib-cage of a T-rex as a child. I believe social media are an amazing tool to give parents the power to transform into science heroes in every home in America. ~Charity M. Phillips Lander

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