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Enhancing physical geography schools outreach: Insights from co-production and storytelling narratives

Adamson, K and Lane, T and De Meyer, K and Carney, M and Oppenheim, L and Panitz, S and Price, H and Smith, E and Watson, G (2021) Enhancing physical geography schools outreach: Insights from co-production and storytelling narratives. Progress in Physical Geography. ISSN 0309-1333

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Abstract

Global environmental change is one of the most pressing issues facing future generations. Equipping schoolchildren with a clear understanding of physical geography is therefore a key educational priority. Effectively engaging schoolchildren with complex scientific ideas can be challenging, but with the appropriate tools, scientists can play a valuable role in developing meaningful science communication experiences. Climate Explorers addressed these issues by forging a collaboration between physical geography and social science academics, and 320 UK school students and their teachers in seven primary (elementary) schools. Using insights from co-production techniques and storytelling, the project aimed to 1) produce new open access, online climate science education resources, and 2) test co-production and storytelling approaches to physical geography science engagement. Our findings demonstrated that school children responded especially well to working with ‘real life’ scientists, where meaningful and memorable educational interactions were forged through the use of narratives, personal experiences and tailored language. Here we summarise our approach, and provide templates that can be readily applied by scientists working across the physical geography spectrum anywhere in the world. The flexibility of the templates means that they can be adapted and developed for a range of formats, from small-scale community workshops to national-scale educational initiatives, for delivery both in-person or online. We hope that our approach will provide a springboard to transform and enhance physical geography science communication more broadly.

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