This coming March scientists are getting together in coffee shops, bars, and living rooms around the world to support Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery. The grassroots organization 500 Women Scientists and the non-profit Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) are partnering through the Science Salons for Puerto Rico Campaign, to raise funds to transform science education in the archipelago.
Historically, salons have acted as gathering places for conversation, to entertain and educate. 500 Women Scientists has borrowed from the spirit of the salon to bring discussions about science to the communities they serve through their pods, or local chapters. Currently, 500 Women Scientists has 167 of pods in 30 countries. 500 Women Scientists works to make science open, inclusive, and accessible by empowering women in science, increasing science literacy through public engagement, and advocating for equality.
Science Salons for Puerto Rico will feature short (10-20 minute) talks by scientists about their work, geared toward a public audience, followed by ample time for questions and discussion. The purpose of the salon is two-fold. To create an opportunity for the community to learn about the research being done my members of the pods while giving pod members a platform to hone their public speaking skills. And by charging admission—either through a set ticket price or suggested donation—the Salons will raise money to support CienciaPR’s initiative of science education for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.
CienciaPR is a global community of scientists, students, educators and allies working to democratize science and transform science education in Puerto Rico. Immediately after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Puerto Rican archipelago, the organization created disaster-related and project-based science lesson plans that could allow displaced students to continue learning. These lessons launched the implementation of CienciaPR’s new 10-year strategic plan of transforming science education in Puerto Rico, by engaging its community of scientists, educators, and students to bring discovery, experimentation, and problem-solving to the classroom in ways that are culturally and socially relevant to Puerto Rican children.
“The Science Salons for Puerto Rico Campaign will give our Pods tools to become better science communicators and connect with their local communities, while raising awareness and donations for CienciaPR’s ongoing efforts to rebuild science education in Puerto Rico,” said 500 Women Scientists’ Outreach Team. “As an emerging grassroots nonprofit, we’re also eager to learn from CienciaPR’s leadership team, as they’ve built an organization on the same core principles as our own.”
As part of the Science Salons for Puerto Rico campaign, 500 Women Scientists is providing pods with science communication training (offered by Dr. Christine O'Connell from the renowned Alda Center for Communicating Science). Volunteer speakers will receive individualized coaching and feedback on their talks, and organizers will get tools and guidelines to help them put together a successful event. The salons will take place during Women’s History Month in March 2018.
“We are excited to be part of this collaboration which promotes science communication, community building, and empowering scientists to make a difference, principles that are at the heart of what Ciencia Puerto Rico and its programs stand for”, said Dr. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, Executive Director of Ciencia Puerto Rico. “The funds raised by the Salons will help us connect scientists with teachers and middle school students in Puerto Rico so that together they may usher in Puerto Rico’s reconstruction.”