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were assessed was an added incentive, so too was the fact that the teacher also blogged. So, while teachers may find blogging useful to describe or discuss their own experiences (Guzey & Roehrig, 2009), something that I’ve found to be the case with my teaching blog(6), it can also have a significant impact on student engagement. Yes, this sort of activity is an additional impost on teachers’ time; there is always a trade-off. But the potential of blogging to enhance student engagement, participation, communication skills, and understanding of science is significant – andsurely worth investigating in the Internet age, when information is only a mouse-click away and the need to educate students on assessing and discussing the reliability of that information has never been greater. For further information:

Churchill, D. (2009) Educational applications of Web 2.0: using blogs to support teaching and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(10), 179-183. doi:10.1111/l/1467-8535.2008.00865.x Guzey, S.S., & Roehrig, G.H. (2009) Teaching science with technology: case studies of science teachers’ development of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 25-45. Ministry of Education (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum. pub. Learning Media Limited; ISBN 978 0 7903 26 15 3

Blog urls (1) Sciblogs (NZ): (2) ScienceBlogs (US): (3) Pharyngula: im-done-almost (4) Rosie Redfield on arsenic: arsenic-associated-bacteria-nasas.html (5) LHC publishes preliminary data for comment: science-environment-15017484 (6) Talking Teaching:

References Brownstein, E., & Klein, R. (2006) Blogs: applications in science education. Journal of College Science Teaching, 35(6), 18-22.

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Dr. Mark Quigley and Ph.D. student, Timothy Stahl from the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, stand in a ground crack that resulted from the September 2010 magnitude 7.1 Darfield earthquake in Canterbury. These features developed as a consequence of landsliding in the Harper Hills northwest of Hororata. Mapping of them provides insights into the ground conditions and earthquake shaking attributes that favour landslide initiation. Photograph courtesy of Mark Quigley.

to ‘background’ probabilities, in addition to providing sufficient information on the methodology and limitations of these forecasts.

Lessons learned Conveying the scientific message in a clear and calm fashion; being transparent about what is known, not known, and what can be learned; and putting forth the message in a compassionate and honest way is essential for good science communication. Dispelling the commonly held public perception of the ‘cold, disconnected’ scientist by showing a human side is, in my opinion, a favourable approach. The public can handle ‘hypotheses’ if the rationale for the hypotheses is explained, regardless of the ultimate outcome


New Zealand Association of Science Educators

once the hypothesis is tested. If the rationale behind scientific hypotheses is left out in dealings with the media, then blogs or personal websites, or places like the New Zealand Science Media Centre where one can write their own article, should be used. My personal website ( that I use as a blog for science communication to the press and public, appeared 3.83 million times in Internet searches and had 123,099 visits (71,916 unique visitors) from over 80 countries around the world in the months following the Darfield earthquake. Hosting public lectures, where attendees could send their questions to the lecturer beforehand, were particularly well attended and greatly appreciated in the instance of the Canterbury earthquakes. The ‘Ask an Expert’ series run in The Press was very useful and enabled scientists to deliver an unfiltered answer to public questions. I made peer-reviewed scientific articles published on the Canterbury earthquakes free to download from my personal webpage so that members of the public wanting to dig deeper into the science could do so. Being on the front foot and anticipating the next question is very important, particularly during the occasional media frenzy that develops during an earthquake sequence. At this stage, being able to do rapid syntheses of scientific literature, often outside of one’s immediate area of expertise, and to communicate these results simply is invaluable. Getting the message out quickly (within 1–3 days), particularly when responding to pseudo-science is essential because if the news moves on without a response from scientists then this might be viewed as a victory for pseudo-science in the public eye. And importantly, in the Internet age of instant information, never under-estimate the abilities of the general public to conduct their own research. Transparency and respect are properties that underpin not only science communication, but communication in general. For further information contact: