We spent the last few modules learning about learning. Now we're going to move into how to leverage that into what we know about learning to design effective outreach activities. Given the design aspect, some refer to the activity of designing learning activities intentionally based on evidence and then examining their outcomes and user experiences to evaluate and tweak all activities as learning engineering. Engineering is a field leverages our understanding of how things work in order to create practical solutions. Let's look at a famous case study of how engineers iterate on their designs. This is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. On the day that it opened in 1940, it was the first cable suspension bridge. Here's a picture of the same bridge just four months later. What happened? The Tacoma Narrows Bridge had a solid deck design. Wind couldn't flow through the bridge. When the wind blew, the bridge twisted back-and-forth. Eventually the twisting was severe enough that the structure of the bridge failed, ultimately leading to the bridges collapse. How did scientists iterate on the design? They added trusses to the bridge deck. This allowed wind to pass through the bridges structure, and so when the wind blew, the bridge no longer twisted back and forth. If you look at the side view of the current Tacoma Narrows Bridge, you can clearly see the trusses in the bridges deck. Much like how engineers refine designs in response to feedback or new evidence. Learning engineers also engage in the same process about learning environments. Based on my discussions with Bror Saxberg, who coined the term learning engineering. We'll hear more from him later in this lesson. I define learning engineering as an iterative process of applying evidence-based insights and methods from a variety of disciplines to inform the design of educational experiences. Some people relate learning engineering to instructional design. Regardless of what term you use, the underlying principles are very similar. When designing any outreach or educational activity, you always start at the end, a principle called backward design. Rather than thinking about what you are going to do here instead start with your goal. In education, we talked about learning objectives, then building assessments and activities around those objectives. In course three, we'll talk about take-home messages in science communication activities and how to direct your message to reach a central goal. Once you have your goal, and it's often much more simplistic than people usually think, then you can decide how you're going to reach that goal. How you're going to communicate that take-home message to your audience. You also need to think about what media is going to help you best achieve that goal as well. Let's say you have an idea you want to communicate to the general public. Do you write a blog article? Do you record a five-minute TikTok video that you post on social media. Do you create a work of art. Do you write a computer game? Do you work with a local museum to design an activity? What you do depends on your goal and of course your target audience. This is something we'll talk about quite a bit more in course three. If you want to reach voters about a policy issue pertaining to climate change, going to a children's museum to give a talk isn't the best idea. If you want to reach people who avoid interacting with science, going to an exhibition that has nothing to do with science is a great idea. We can also carefully consider the elements that we include in our activity and the evidence behind them. For example, we talked earlier about how images and examples can help people remember and learn. What images or examples can you use? What's going to be the most effective for your audience? We also need to consider the perspectives and needs of our target audiences. What biases do they have? What are their prior beliefs, their feelings, their motivations? What did they bring with them to this science experience? How does that influence how people will then engage with your science communication endeavor? If you're trying to reach a group of people who've had bad prior experiences with science, how can you help them engage and start building positive associations with science? For another example, we know that repetition is important for storing things that are long-term memories. How will you repeat your message without sounding like a record player that's skipping? Repetition is important to make a meaningful impact, but it needs to be done in an engaging way. Earlier in this course, we talked about social cognitive learning. People learn from each other and from resources around them. How can you help people engage with material and use each other and other resources you provided to reach your ultimate outreach goals. Designing science communication, using learning engineering involves building on scientific evidence on how people learn. Whether you are designing or evaluating a science communication activity, it's very important to be ready to look at the literature. Engaging in any science communication activity, whether it's formal classroom teaching or not, is most effective when it's based on evidence rather than hunches or inference to well, that's the way we've always done it. Why is this so important? Let's look at an example from Bror Saxberg, who is credited with popularizing the term learning engineering. In this clip, we can see the dangers of basic creation of a learning activity on intuition rather than evidence. Let's take a look. In the video, we saw an example of how learning engineering could have saved an educational company quite a bit of money. Now, let's look at how we can apply this in science communication. Let's start with an example of a classic outreach activity. They can actually do more harm than good. How many times have you seen a science toy, classroom activity or outreach activity that involves blowing something up? When I was in college, day one of intro-chem always involved the professor igniting a hydrogen filled balloon that dramatically and very loudly illustrated a chemical reaction. It gets even worse when it's a stereotypical scientists with a white lab coat and goggles doing it. The problem with such activities that even though they're fun, research actually suggests that these can backfire and contribute to inequities in science. Explosions are typically thought of as being in line with a male identity. Young children who identify as female have a harder time engaging with dirty, explosive, or loud science. That begins to sow seeds that they aren't science people because it conflicts with their gender identity. They feel like they can identify as a female and also identify as a scientists at the same time. Others love the loud explosions, but their inches quickly fizzles out in the classroom, when they realize that classroom science tends to minimize the explosions wherever possible. In this case, because of a lack of attention to the evidence, we see that the best of intentions trying to get kids excited about science actually causes some children to feel alienated and contributes to inequities. Power of learning engineering though, is that it allows us to iterate when we learn new things. It's not all or nothing. The important thing is changing when new information comes to light instead of just sticking with the old way of doing it. With a learning engineering mindset, we can tweak our designs when we learn something new. We know reflection is an important part of how students learn. It's also an essential part of how we refine our science communication endeavors. In addition to personal reflection, it's also important to formally evaluate activities. This data can then be used to inform iterations of your design. We'll talk more about evaluation and how it's similar and different from research in the next lesson.