Community members have opportunity to talk with scientists
For Immediate Release
April 29, 2016
Gainesville, Fla. — Scientists are asking community members to have a conversation with them.
In July, residents of Alachua and surrounding counties will have the opportunity to ask scientists from the University of Florida questions about science and to learn how science affects their lives.
The Talk Science With Me program, developed by Katie Stofer, a professor in the UF agricultural education and communication department, creates a unique setting that allows scientists and community members to come together and have casual conversations about science.
The purpose of this project is to get people thinking about science by fostering conversations in places like bars and coffee shops that reveal how scientists are part of and contribute to the community. This idea is very important to Stofer.
“These scientists are just general, everyday people that live and work in your community, and they’re trying to do good stuff for your community too,” she said.
The Talk Science With Me events bring scientists out from the university and into towns. Gainesville House of Beer and the Gatorland Laundromat are two places Gainesville residents can go, while Gator Bait Sports Grill and the Hawthorne Library remove transportation barriers for those who live on the outskirts of Alachua County. The events are also offered at different ranges of time to ensure that people with tight schedules can still find time to attend, Stofer said.
All ages are welcome to attend the free Talk Science With Me events. Scientists from many different areas of study, such as oceanography and geology, will be featured across the events. If people are especially curious about a specific topic, they can talk to an expert. Whether or not someone knows exactly what interests them, Talk Science With Me creates a chance for people to form personal relationships with scientists that solve real problems.
The Talk Science With Me scientists want to answer the community’s questions, but they also want to learn from the community. “I thought a lot about what to call this,” Stofer said. “It’s not talking to the community. It’s talking with the community.”
The Talk Science With Me scientists believe that since the public’s money goes to fund their research, they should be researching topics that matter to the public, Stofer said.
UF is a land-grant university, which requires scientists at the university to share their work with others outside the school. “The land grant mission fundamentally is to engage with the community,” Stofer said, “and get our work out into the community so that we can make a difference in our community.”