IOP: Doing outreach and extending outreach

Training for people at different levels of experience:
The case of doing outreach and extending your outreach for the Institute of Physics

We were contracted to provide an on-going programme of training for IOP members, designed to encourage members of the physics community to get involved in outreach and to support experienced engagers who wish to further develop their skills. This led to further training delivery through the HE STEM programme.

In 2006 the institute of Physics (IOP) contracted the Training Group to develop and deliver a three year programme of PE training courses for IOP members, with the aim of developing their outreach skills.

Two sessions were developed in order to support both those who were new to public engagement and also for those who had some experience and were looking to further develop their skills.

Doing Outreach was developed to encourage members of the physics community to get involved in outreach activity. It introduces participants to the political and social context of science communication and helps them to develop their confidence and engagement skills.

Extending your Outreach was targeted at those IOP members with experience of public engagement who wanted to extend their activities or help support others to develop their own initiatives. This advanced level course aims to raise the quality and quantity of funding applications submitted for physics outreach and engagement projects.

The courses were delivered in a series of one-day sessions at venues across the UK and Ireland. The courses were refined and further developed throughout the programme’s delivery as a result of on-going evaluation.

Due to the success and widespread appeal of the course, the IOP later commissioned further courses to be run through 2011 and also provided funding for the HE STEM programme –offering Doing Outreach and Extending Your Outreach to university departments who successfully applied to receive the training. This training is also delivered by The Training Group.

Being surrounded by other scientists means you can sometimes lose perspective on what you’re doing and why. The Training Group helped me place my research in the bigger picture and make it more accessible to others.

Alf Hill
PhD Student at the University of Bath’s Doctoral Training Centre in Sustainable Chemical Technologies, Cohort 2