Our group has recently started a School for Young Science Communicators, addressed but not limited towards Science students. We have been involved in the recent past with small informal environments where Science Dissemination is taught and experimented. Our experience has led us to think that a larger effort must be made to increase science culture of society, which has shown as especially lacking during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Since March 2020, new, easy ways to gather online and communicate efficiently have emerged. The word “zoom” has replaced the word “room” for schools but especially for universities, which at least are carrying out a hybrid teaching model. Of a sudden, instructors, students and schools had to adapt to the online environment. Those that had acquired some experience and skills, for instance because they had set up MOOCs in the first part of the 10’s, had some advantage.
The use of online tools has brought about new opportunities for young people who had not thought about communicating and disseminating. Further, even though similarities exist between face-to-face and online communication, the large diversity of devices, connection quality, and personal skills have shown the need of a new kind of rather informal instruction on this subject.
The barrier between higher education and secondary institutions is sometimes too large. The purpose of the school we have started is also to close the gap or lower such a barrier, because young science students will be the best communicators, even mentors, to high-school students, especially those about to start university degrees.
This communication will pinpoint our new School, by showing preliminary outcomes and inputs by students: their expectations, their motivations, and their willingness to increase Public Awareness of Science (and even Public Understanding, of course). Our contribution will also tackle how such a School may help in preventing disinformation and misinformation, while increasing Critical Thinking by young students. Fighting fake news is of utmost important in complex times like those of the current pandemics, and waking up minds should be a duty of the academic community.
Last but not least, we will review similar experiences around the world which may provide clues for best practices, because love for Science should also carry love for disseminating it. Furthermore, one must take into account that Science Communication needs Mathematics, which in turn needs Language – and communication techniques. Thus, a truly transdisciplinary approach can be taken and transferred to students.