Actor and science advocate Alan Alda invited scientists, teachers, and others who care about science communication to join in the discussion of one of the vital questions of our time: how to help society understand science better. Alan reported on the intriguing—and sometimes surprising—results from the Flame Challenge, a worldwide contest that asked scientists to explain a flame in terms that would engage an 11-year-old. More than 6,000 11-year-olds judged the entries, but their responses provide lessons for scientists communicating with audiences of any age. We discussed innovative techniques pioneered by the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where scientists are learning communication skills as a fundamental part of their science education.
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