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Contact Us
Extended University
Burns Technology Center
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173860
Bozeman, MT 59717-3860

Tel: (406) 994-6550
Fax: (406) 994-7856

Location: 128 EPS
Extended University
Communicating Science to the Public

Project Completion

The Communicating Science to the Public pilot project was completed in Fall 2009. Nineteen graduate and undergraduate students completed the curriculum, including creation of a touch-screen multimedia presentation, all of which are available to the public.

The topic of communicating science holds much potential on this campus and others. If you are interested in this topic and would like to hear more about the pilot test at MSU, please email Suzi Taylor (

Possibilities include

  • Delivering a custom program for your lab group or department
  • Including a "science communications" unit in your grant proposal
  • Supporting a public course that helps all students
  • Partnering to deliver a credit, non-credit or seminar course


Communicating Science to the Public educated MSU graduate and undergraduate students on techniques for communicating science to the public. Through a competitive application, 19 students were chosen, representing four MSU colleges and 11 different majors. About half were undergraduate and half graduate students; and about half were male and half female.

The students participated in eight one-hour lunchtime seminars beginning in September 2009. Students learned techniques for communicating science from a number of guest speakers, then created a touch-screen multimedia module about a particular science or engineering topic and presented that topic in a public forum.

Due to time constraints, the project deliberately focused on broad communications strategies and evaluating the efficacy of various techniques rather than on hands-on technical skills.

Guest speakers and topics

  • Week 1: Science communications overview. Gerry Wheeler, nuclear physicist and former executive director of the National Science Teachers Association.
  • Week 2: Science communications overview. Lars Lindberg Christiansen, astronomist and director of science communications for Hubble Europe.
  • Week 3: Technology and communications.Ann Aikin, social media strategist, Centers for Disease Control.
  • Week 4: Communicating through multmedia; software overview; graphic design principles.Suzi Taylor and Jamie Cornish, MSU Extended University.
  • Week 5: Storytelling.Soren Wheeler, producer, NPR's RadioLab (WNYC).
  • Week 6: Visual communication. Dan Goods, visual strategist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • Week 7: The "elevator speech."Tracy Ellig, Director, MSU News Service.
  • Week 8: Public presentations and working with the media.Ritchie Boyd, Web scientist, Extended University, and Ed Adams, snow scientist, College of Engineering.

Student multimedia

Multimedia presentations created by the students of this project are now available to the public on the MSU campus.

Visit BTC Studio 1080 interactive multimedia center in the EPS Building atrium. Touch "Studio 1080 multimedia," then "Student Projects" to view interactive exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to fuel cells to the future of audio engineering.

And, read about student Ryan Hannahoe's participation on page 4 of the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development newsletter.


    Nov 10
    Nov. 17
    Dec. 1
    Dec. 8

    Gabe Gabrielsen, Optical and Laser Physics

    Kevin Harlen, Cell Biology and Neuroscience

    Holly Woodward, Paleontology

    James Connolly, Environmental Engineering

    Silvina Guidoni, Solar Physics

    Jayson Nissen, Physics

    Nate Piekielek, Ecology

    Melody Bechberger, Earth Science

    Tara Chesley-Preston, Earth Science

    Ryan Hannahoe, Education

    Pete Lindahl, Electrical Engineering

    Bridgett McNulty, Biochemistry/Cell Biology

    Darrin Reed, Electrical Engineering

    Alexey Kalinin, Soil Science/Economics

    Jamie Kern, Geology / Paleontology

    Katie Lenahan, Biochemistry

    Shawn McGlynn, Biochemistry

    Dana Skorupa, Microbiology

    Molly Spencer, Animal & Range / Pre-Vet

All presentations are free and open to the public in Studio 1080, the interactive multimedia center in the EPS Building atrium. Refreshments will be served. All are welcome!

Call for applications (April 2009)

Students, here's your chance to enhance your science career with communications and outreach skills!

From museums to popular television to supermarket tabloids...the public learns about science in many different ways. But not every depiction of science is flattering, engaging or even accurate.

Twenty MSU students will be chosen to participate in this free symposium for science, engineering, technology and math students.

The program schedule:

Eight consecutive Tuesdays

Sept. 15 - Nov. 3, 2009

Noon to 1 p.m.

EPS Building at MSU

Over the course of the eight weeks, you'll meet journalists, PR practitioners, museum professionals and research scientists who will share their best strategies for communicating science to the public.

You'll learn how to work with reporters, give better public presentations, use emerging technologies, and make great visuals.

This project is also great for resume-building! You'll earn MSU Continuing Education Units (CEU's), and this experience will appear on your MSU transcript.

Lunch is provided at every session, and the textbook (which you can keep) and all materials are included.

As the project culmination, you will learn to build a digital touch-screen exhibit that will remain available to the public in the Burns Technology Center's Studio 1080 multimedia center, and you will present your exhibit to the public.

Students who complete all sessions and the final project will earn a stipend of $500.

Download a flyer [PDF]

The program is open to all MSU graduate and undergraduate students in science, engineering, technology or math (STEM) fields. Preference will be given to students who are engaged in MSU research; previous Space Grant- or aerospace-related experience will also be a factor in the selection process.

Download the application here [PDF]

Montana Space Grant ConsortiumThis is a program of the Montana Space Grant Consortium. For more information about the application process, contact MSU Extended University at (406) 994-6550 or If you require any special accommodations for submitting the application, please contact Extended University.

View Text-only Version Text-only Updated: 05/13/2010
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