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Science Works: A University Based Science Outreach Group

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.456.1 - 4.456.5

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Paper Authors

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Diandra Leslie-Pelecky

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Rochelle Payne Ondracek

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1380

ScienceWorks: a University-Based Science Outreach Group

Rochelle Payne Ondracek, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky University of Nebraska - Lincoln


ScienceWorks is a science and engineering outreach group at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, comprised of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and community volunteers. We are brought together by one goal - to make science fun and accessible for everyone. ScienceWorks has developed over 30 modules that emphasize a range of scientific and engineering topics and guide the participants in discovery-based learning. Modules cover a wide variety of topics, including pressure, materials, electromagnetism, archaeology, DNA, optics and fracture. Most ScienceWorks modules involve hands-on activities. In Electromagnetism for example, students are asked to use a length of wire and a nail to design an electromagnet that will pick up as many paperclips as possible. Other ScienceWorks modules are scripted, multimedia presentations designed for larger audiences. In the Pressure Presentation for example, the audience learns about the basic principles behind pressure through a series of demonstrations and explanations using a Socratic dialog. Students involved in ScienceWorks have the opportunity to develop their own modules, strengthen their speaking skills, and learn how to effectively communicate with the public.


It is increasingly important for the general American population to be scientifically literate so that the United States can remain economically competitive. According to the National Science Board’s yearly review of science trends, Science and Engineering Indicators: 1998, "Scientific and technological literacy are important. Science and technology skills are increasingly required in many jobs. There is an increased emphasis on accountability and the importance of public understanding and awareness of science and technology. The public should be able to understand the scientific process and be knowledgeable about science and technology discoveries in order to participate more adequately in policy discussions."1

A critical component in developing public science literacy is teaching scientists to communicate with and educate the public. NSF Director Rita Colwell recently said, "...we cannot expect the task of science and math education to be the sole responsibility of K through 12 teachers while scientists and graduate students live only in their universities and laboratories. There is no group of people who should feel more responsible for science and math education in this nation than our scientists and scientists-to-be." 2 "….We need to…reach out with clarity, explain what we do to the public, talk to the media, try new approaches to achieve a more inclusive workforce.

Leslie-Pelecky, D., & Ondracek, R. P. (1999, June), Science Works: A University Based Science Outreach Group Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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