Traditional summative assessments in freshman introductory labs typically focus on evaluating students' ability to communicate science to other scientists. While communication with other scientists is important, we also wanted students to learn how to communicate science to a general audience. Our podcast science communication project was designed to complement scientific posters in our lab curriculum in integrated biology and chemistry by introducing students to the significance and skills required to communicate science to the general public. In our podcast project, students are introduced to the fundamentals of science communication through a partnership with the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Students then research a topic or problem of interest adjacent to their inquiry-based lab project, and in groups of three they script a podcast segment that presents the current science to a general audience. In the Fall semester, students research a topic related to UV protection. Students have chosen such topics as; how organic sunscreens are harming coral reefs, how hippo sweat is UV protective, and debunking the popular "sunscreen pills." In the spring semester, students explore how climate change is impacting an ecosystem of their choosing. Student feedback indicates that they enjoy having autonomy over the topic and style of their podcast. We found that student confidence in their science communication skills to both a general audience and other scientists increased throughout the course of the semester.
--Stefanie DeVito, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences