INFORMING THE PUBLIC THROUGH MULTIMEDIA OUTLETS-HOW A TEAM OF INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDENTS AIDED IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF LOCAL WATER QUALITY ISSUES
The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the importance of scientific communication with the public and how multimedia delivery affects that communication. The presentation will share a website constructed by an interdisciplinary team of science and media students that delivers information about local water-quality issues. The presenters will also discuss how the team dynamics and the collaborative approach influenced the project.
The quality of our water and the legislation that governs the quality, along with how tax dollars are spent, is a matter that the public should be aware of. However, in order to make political, personal, and social sound decisions, the public must be informed of the importance of water quality and issues that impact it such as stream-bank erosion. This project aimed to improve the local public’s understanding of this water quality issue by using media delivered to the public in the form of scientific data, expert interviews, and information graphics housed on an interactive website. All scientific data is original, and it was collected weekly from four different sites along a creek that serves as a significant tributary to the White River watershed in east-central Indiana. Analysis of the data offered insights into the potential causes of water quality problems and led to interviews of public officials and local professionals on the problem of stream-bank erosion. The presentation of information is in such a way that the uniformed public may access the website and gain a greater understanding of water quality issues by learning about problems associated with stream bank erosion along with possible solutions. By presenting the information in a controlled, and user friendly way that is easy for the user to control and understand, the students who created this content believe website visitors will be more likely to pull accurate details from the information given. They will then be more likely to make informed and responsible decisions about water quality issues in their local proximity.