500 Women Scientists is celebrating the New Year by inviting you to join our Science Salons for Puerto Rico Campaign. For the last year, our amazing network of self-identifying women scientists have put their communication skills to use within their communities. Now, we’re channeling that energy into a concerted campaign across our pods. We’re asking our pods to host Science Salons — or public talks — in coffee shops, bars, and living rooms around the world during Women’s History Month in March. By charging admission, the Salons will serve as a vehicle to raise money to support our amazing partners at CienciaPR as they work to transform science education in Puerto Rico and around the world.
Throughout history, salons have acted as gathering places for conversation “either to please or to educate (Latin: aut delectare aut prodesse). From the salons of the Enlightenment to the 1940s salons of Gertrude Stein, women have played a central role in guiding and driving the discussion.
500 Women Scientists has borrowed from the spirit of the salon to bring discussions about science to the communities we serve through our pods. A Science Salon often takes the format of three speakers sharing 10 to 20 minute talks about their work, geared toward a public audience, followed by ample time for questions and discussion. The purpose of the salon is two-fold, creating an opportunity for the community to learn about our membership’s amazing research while giving our 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 for CienciaPR to transform science education in Puerto Rico.
Part of the mission of 500 Women Scientists is to give women the tools and training to be a public voice for science. To provide support for our pods, we’ve tapped into a number of resources from our network of scientists.
Our NYC Pod has volunteered their membership to act as coaches to give volunteer speakers one-on-one practice and advice leading up to their public talks. 500 Women Scientists NYC has hosted a number of public science events, and their membership is made of many science communication professionals.
We’ve created a guide to help Science Salon organizers put together a successful event, outlining important steps that need to happen along with way with a suggested timeline.
We encourage participating pods to donate the profits from the Science Salons to benefit Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) and support their campaign to transform science education in Puerto Rico, with a focus on natural disasters. Ciencia PR is a global community of scientists, students, educators and allies who believe that science can empower individuals with the knowledge, capacity, and agency to improve their lives and society. The Science Salons for Puerto Rico campaign will give pods the tools and experience to continue hosting salons to benefit organizations and initiatives in their own communities.
This timeline is designed to guide participating pods towards hosting a Science Salon to coincide with Women's History Month in March. Of course, we understand that this timeline may not work for all pods, so feel free to adjust as necessary.
|Early January||Announce Science Salons for Puerto Rico to pods|
|End of January||Select speakers for the Science Salon event; Find venue|
Speakers participate in public speaking webinar
Speakers matched with public speaking coach from the NYC pod
Create Eventbrite to sell tickets and advertise the event
|Mid February||Speakers practice their talks with their speaking coach|
|March||March Salons hosted, coinciding with Women’s History Month|
As a women-led nonprofit, CienciaPR taps into its rich and diverse community to democratize science and transform science education and career training in Puerto Rico. We’ve partnered with CienciaPR because our missions to democratize science and foster agency among underrepresented communities are well-aligned. While CienciaPR focuses on Puerto Rico and its diaspora, their strategy can serve as a model to other communities that are underrepresented in or disengaged from science. We are thrilled to support their ongoing efforts and learn from their organization’s successes in building capacity and fostering community.
Immediately after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, CienciaPR worked with the Department of Education to create disaster-related and project-based science lesson plans that could allow displaced students to continue learning. Early in 2018, CienciaPR will launch a pilot project to train educators to implement four science lessons in natural disaster and environment related topics: renewable energy, environmental sustainability, clean and potable water, and terrestrial ecosystems. Later in the year, they will bring together scientists and educators to co-create project-based science lessons that foster creativity, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking skills. These new lessons will serve as a platform for students to work together to address the challenges they see in their communities. This pilot project kicks off 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.
Of course, you can donate to CienciaPR at any time outside of the Science Salons campaign. You can also read more about CienciaPR's strategic vision in their latest op-ed for Scientific American, "Rebuilding Science Education in Puerto Rico."
The 500 Women Scientists NYC Pod has drawn together a group of 172 members from the New York City area. Since the Pod launched in early 2017, we have kept busy with a variety of public engagement events. We have held two Science Salon-like events — July’s “Women in STEM Fest” and November’s “Science at the Bar” event, which featured a total of seven women scientists as speakers. We have published two articles: Science is Patriotic by the NYC Pod and Why Women Drop Out of Science Careers by Pod member Alicia Pérez-Porro. We also had five members educate the public on their favorite women scientists with fun and interactive science lectures at a “Pregame Your Brain” event in December. Between these and other activities, we have had a chance to gather incredible women together to discuss science, communication, advocacy and more. We are excited to launch and participate in new initiatives in 2018, including the Science Salon Campaign, an upcoming Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences, and a science communication workshop.