Communication & Outreach Resources
Developing an Outreach Plan
Each year, NPRB receives education and outreach plans that extend beyond our imagination. We encourage creative, appropriate outreach plans that provide value to our stakeholders and target audiences. Below, are some useful tips and links to help launch a successful Outreach proposal for NPRB.
Know Your Audience
The first step is to determine the intended audience(s). Develop outreach deliverables that are appropriate for your audience(s). For example, utilize focus groups or poll intended audiences to determine what outreach they would like to see. Contact educators in advance to better integrate with education standards. Outreach in Alaska's remote coastal communities requires special attention.
Brainstorm & Creativity
Innovation and creativity are highly encouraged when developing outreach plans. Listed below are different types of outreach deliverables. Keep in mind, however, that you should develop content that you think your audience(s) might want, not necessarily what you want to produce.
Production & Value
Understanding the costs associated with outreach is an important component to any outreach plan. Investigators must account for development time, travel, in-kind contributions, direct and indirect costs, and production costs that include, design (graphic/web), materials, printing, and shipping.
Assessment & Evaluation
Scientists generally agree that outreach is important to science, but quantifying its value is a challenge. Adding evaluative metrics (e.g., survey info) and establishing attainable goals will help determine the success of your outreach. For example, if 25 community members attended a meeting related to your project, and the goal was 10, the meeting could be considered a success.
Do you have access to educational, artistic, or technical resources within your or your Co-PI's organization or academic institution? Consider utilizing resources that have the professional expertise and skillsets necessary to develop effective outreach. Alternatives would include either contracting services, employing students, or attempting to do-it-yourself--the latter should only be a consideration if there is capacity to produce professional results.
Investigators looking to submit outreach plans that include fact sheets and webpages should exercise caution. NPRB does not consider these products to be standalone products for effective outreach.
Additional Resource Planning Links
NPRB’s Outreach Program closely mirrors other funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation with its Broader Impacts requirement. Below, are helpful resources you may consider when planning your education and outreach components into scientific proposals.
- National Science Foundation's Broader Impacts
- The Oceanography Society's Guide for Education and Public Outreach
- The National Academy of Science's Resources for Involving Scientists in Education
- Developing and Implementing an Effective Public Outreach Program, 2009 EOS Article from the American Geophysical Union
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Education and Public Outreach Help Guide
Photo Credit: Carla Stanley
We have identified several outreach deliverables below categorized by type. This is not an exhaustive list, but one to start the brainstorming process. Please note that websites and fact sheets are not considered standalone outreach deliverables for NPRB Outreach Awards. Meetings, events, and science fairs require some level of participation and engagement.
- Digital Products
Wordpress, Weebly, Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace and more have great low cost options to get a website up and running fast and easy--and are mobile ready. Pick a template, link to social media, and create!
Blogging, Vlogging, Podcasting
Static websites offer brand identity and visual presence, but sites that have the capacity for blogging or vlogging (video blogging) allow for audience interaction and dynamic content. For investigators looking to create a virtual space to provide project updates, this is an excellent tool to do so. Podcasting is another way to inform and update audiences while also creating a platform to draw larger audiences.
The personal narrative is an effective way to engage audiences. It is the behind-the-scences content that provides context and understanding. Combined with compelling marine research, and you have an outreach product that can be incredibly valuable. Lambert's book Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community is a great resources and apps such as Adobe Spark or Steller can get you started right away to create stories.
Game On! App Development
Mobile technology is an excellent way to explore outreach ideas. Android and iOS platforms offer ways to increase reach and engagment among select audiences. Check out the SeaScribe app and the Arctic UAV app, two tools that offer quite different user experiences. Apps like Tickle offer e-learning programming solutions for drones.
Tell stories by mapping your research journey. ESRI's tool or the free StoryMap JS offer solutions to visualize on a map where research is being conducted. Add video, audio, images, or supplemental text at each location to help build your story.
Social Media & Video
Social Media can be an excellent way to disseminate information. For it to be successful, however, content must be consistently updated, and users must engage with audiences. Using video has become a critical way to drive social media traffic and presence. Also consider video in other capacities such as creating your own YouTube or Vimeo Channel for use in presentations. Outreach funds to purchase small, rugged video equipment or video editing software to create compelling stories about your research. An alternative would be to use video production services such as Kindea Labs or Encounters North.
Now anyone, regardless of where you are or education level, can participate in research. Online portals such as Zooniverse host data for users to help researchers compile, synthesize, and analyze data unlocking new discoveries each day.
- Print Products
Pamphlets & Brochures
These are simple forms of outreach that can be effective tools, especially if traveling remotely to coastal communities. Use caution if this is your only form of outreach as the Board may favor expanded outreach initiatives. Also consider contracting services for graphic design for these types of materials.
Children's Book & Coffee Table Book
With online resources such as Blurb, Lulu, Mpix, and more, it is now easier than ever to publish and print books at reasonable cost. Photo books are great outreach deliverables that can be distributed to local communities, for example, that illustrate a project from start to finish.
Infographics provide a visual way to display information and data for print and web productions. Piktochart is one of many free online tools that can be used to develop infographics quickly and easily. Add a graphic designer to create compelling graphics or use the site's built in graphics. Share the infographics on the web and through social media channels.
Have a great idea for a board game stemming from your research? This can be a great DIY project for any outreach initiative. Looking to extend the game a bit further? Online tools such as The Game Crafter can assist in the building process and offer resources for better art, game play, and more.
Bathymetric data, geographic hotspots, marine life, and more now have the ability to be printed in 3D! Looking to provide a model to display of a certain element of a research project? 3D printing can be novel addition to any outreach proposal.
Science as Art
Pair with an artist (painter, photographer, etc.) to develop an interdisciplanary adventure combining science and art. Use art as another medium to help better explain the marine environoments off Alaska while adding a narrative component to the science. See Imaging the Arctic and Science on Ice for great examples to model this type of outreach initiative. Art can be interpreted in many ways through dance, photography, painting, Alaska native art, etc.
- In the Classroom
Virtual Field Trips
Virtual field trips allow for students to peer into the marine science world without having to leave their desk. They can be as simple as using google earth or story mapping applications to upload images and video during a research project. Or websites like Field Trip Zoom can partner with institutions to provide a more professional product.
Lesson Plan Development
Lesson plan development thematically tailored directly to research projects is one of the more common outreach initiatives that NPRB receives annually. Be sure to include science, national, and statewide educational standards. Find a teacher to assist in development and deployment to ensure proper assessment. Thinking about hosting the lesson plans on your own website? Try hosting lesson plans online where teachers go to get resources such as BrainPop Educators, Teachers.Net, Teacherlingo.com, DigitalWish, iTunes U, and more.
Bring your research to the classroom. Help design an experiment based on your research project and conduct it with students. Always contact teachers well in advance to ensure proper planning. Use Google Chat, Skype, the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) or other virtual communication portals to connect multiple schools.
- Meetings, Events, & Science Fairs
Interactive kiosks provide a large amount of information in a relatively small footprint—ideal for a traveling or permanent exhibits on a shoestring budget. Using an iPad, develops can download the Kiosk Pro Plus App to display web pages, documents, or media files. Add an enclosure from iPadKiosks.com, and for less than $2,000, you have a great outreach product! Requires internet connectivity. Graphic and web designers can offer more interactivity, but well worth the investment. .
Scan the Code
QR codes are a novel way to connect printed materials (i.e. posters, exhibits, etc.) with supplemental online information. It provides a way for users to interact and engage with exhibits while still offering additional content. The content is also accessible in mobile and web formats, something with which standalone exhibits cannot compete. Many smartphones already have built in QR code readers eliminating the need for 3rd party applications.
Museums & Aquariums
Those seeking to offer outreach resources to general audiences, museums and aquariums in Alaska provide large visitation numbers, especially in the summer months. Work with exhibit and education staff to conceptualize potential exhibitry to describe your research project. Due to fabrication time, cost of materials, and time to develop, these types of outreach deliverables are costly, but have potential to draw a large audience pool.
Traveling exhibits offer the opportunity to share assets across a broader geographical context than permanent exhibits do. These typically are lower cost initiatives, but can be beneficial in reaching audiences outside large demographic areas such as coastal communities.
- In the Community
Citizen Science & Local Research
Community-based participatory research is an excellent way to lower investigator travel cost, increase community engagement, and increase scientific understanding and capacity. Addtionally it has the ability to forge relationships between coastal community members and scientists while also providing valuable data that may not otherwise be collected without community support.
Working with coastal community students can be a rewarding experience for both investigator and students. Should logistics accomodate, it would be ideal to offer more than one opportunity for classroom engagement in rural communities. Contact the appropriate school district during the planning process to seek endorsement, and plan on coordinating with teachers to best incorporate your content in their classrooms. Conducting laboratory experiments, field trips, or assisting with data collection are all interactive options that extend scientific concepts in a fun, educational manner.
Local newspaper and radio are still heavily utilized in Alaska's coastal communities. Offer to write an op-ed piece about your upcoming research or conduct an interview/q&a over the air with the local radio station are two great ways to inform community stakeholders. Further media options could include Frontier Scientists, Alaska Fish Radio, and on the national level, Science 360.
Potlucks & Presentations
Offering to host a potluck (with door prizes) can be an effective way to gather community members to a presentation about your research. Potlucks tend to draw large audiences as it is culturally a way for community members to gather and socialize. For these presentations, it is best to have additional information in the form of pamphlets or brochures further describing the research being conducted. Bringing fresh produce might be an added touch!
Providing translations to outreach deliverables such as technical reports, brochures, or pamphlets could be an effective way to engage coastal communties. This can be a costly endeavor as it would require hiring a translator, but by including multiple languages in product development, it demonstrates the appreciation for local traditional knowledge in your research.
Contact Local Map Agents
Sea Grant Alaska's Mareine Advisory Program offers excellent resources directly in key coastal communities throughout Alaska. They function to help Alaskans wisely use, conserve, and enjoy Alaska's marine and coastal resources.
Below are links to various organizations that may be helpful resources when developing your outreach proposal and deliverables. Work with your own outreach and education coordinators to develop stronger and more robust outreach proposals.
- Alaska Marine Science Centers and Museums
- Alaska Islands and Ocean Center
- Alaska SeaLife Center
- Anchorage Museum
- Iñupiat Heritage Center
- Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center
- Kodiak Laboratory Aquarium
- Museums Alaska
- Northwest Arctic Heritage Center
- Pacific Science Center
- Prince William Sound Science Center
- Sitka Sound Science Center
- University of Alaska Museum of the North
- Marine Science & Education Organizations
- Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science
- Alaska's Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) website no longer maintained; National COSEE
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game Education and Outreach
- Alaska SeaGrant
- Alaska Fisheries Science Center Education and Outreach
- International Arctic Research Center Education and Outreach
- National Marine Educators Association
- NOAA Education Resources
- Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators
- Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Education
- School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Community Outreach and Education
- The Bridge Ocean Sciences Education Teacher Research Center
- In the Classroom
- Alaska Public Schools Database
- Anchorage School District
- Anchorage School District's Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)
- ARLIS Library
- Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration
- Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) website, *no longer maintained but still a good resource
- Discovery Education
- Project Wild
- Project Learning Tree
- Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College
- Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Distance Learning
Ways to Improve Science Communication
Communicating about science to different audiences can be challenging, especially when the science is highly specific and technical. Who the audience is will also drive the complexity of the scientific messages. An investigator delivering outreach to primary education and policy management, for example, would most likely create separate communication strategies. Below, are helpful references that will improve scientific communication from writing to displaying graphs to incorporating stories into science.
Escape from the Ivory Tower
Making Science Matter
Creating Great Presentations
Don't Be Such a Scientist
Communicating Technical Information
Show Me the Numbers
Displaying Charts and Graphs
Photo Credit: Ann Fienup-Riordan
For residents living in Alaskan coastal communities, the ocean retains spiritual, cultural, and subsistence connections that embody a way of life and comprise a wealth of local and traditional ecological knowledge—especially for Alaska Native people. There are over 230 federally recognized Alaska Native entities in the state of Alaska spanning 12 regions and at least 20 distinct indigenous languages. Together, local traditional knowledge and marine research can produce meaningful results, but mutual respect for cultures, knowledge, and ways of life must be firmly established.
Transparency. Science and outreach in coastal communities should be open and planned well in advance. Even if letters of support are not required from certain burough, tribal, and co-managment organizations, the Board favors those endorsements. Each coastal region operates differently. Determine the appropriate level of engagement for local, tribal, and regional governments and Alaska Native Organizations (ANOs) such as co-management organizations.
Stay Consistent and Engaged. Effective outreach plans keep local communities informed and engaged throughout the project and afterwards. Multiple community visits builds consistency, trust, friendship, and also establishes a strong communication network for investigators.
Capitalize on Local Media. Local newspaper and radio are excellent sources of delivering content about your research. Radio and social media via mobile technology may be some of the best ways to deliver scientific communication.
Cross Cultural Communication. Cultural differences can often affect the success of scientific communication and outreach. Here are two excellent resources (Link 1 | Link 2 ) for articles, books, and videos about cross cultural communication in Alaska. Workshops are also available. The Alaska Native Knowledge Network also has resources pertaining to Aalska Native knowledge.
Subsistence Timing. Good outreach may depend upon the timing of subsistence hunting. If planning on community visits, check with local tribal offices to avoid subsistence conflicts and to coordinate the best timing for outreach.
School Importance. In many remote coastal communities, the local school is the communication hub of the community. Delivering presentations or potlucks may require coordinating with the school office to determine best times for these activities.
How to Assess Your Outreach
Determining the overall outreach impact and success is not only important to NPRB, but to also investigators submitting proposals. Investigators would want to know what outreach products worked well for certain audiences than others, and how might they gain a competetive edge in attaining a successful outreach award.
NPRB's outreach program requires applicants to develop meaningful goals for their outreach deliverables. Establishing baselines and expectations offer opportunities for investigators to gauge overall progress and targets to achieve throughout the project. When developing outreach deliverables, think about what data would yield meaningful information. For example, websites and social media offer tracking solutions to measure visits, likes duration, page numbers, and other metrics.