Joint 52nd Northeastern Annual Section / 51st North-Central Annual Section Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 32-4
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


GUERTIN, Laura A., Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063,

In 2016, several female scientists participated in a year-long social media challenge of posting one selfie a day to represent daily activities in the life of a scientist. Known as the #365scienceselfies project, female geologists captured moments in the classroom, in the laboratory, in the field, as well as images from their personal lives, including grocery shopping and enjoying hobbies. The photos and descriptions were posted in Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #365scienceselfies. The goals of the project were to expand the public perception of who scientists are, to humanize scientists, and to attract female participants and viewers of the photos, as selfies play a large role in the social life of Millennials. It is hoped that the photos will be successful in engaging individual students as well as K-12 teachers and classrooms in learning more about a scientist outside of the stereotypical definition. Some of the challenges of using this collection of selfies to represent scientists includes showing science as a solitary activity (an effect of the “selfie” photo) and a lack of capturing the downsides and challenges of being a scientist (difficult collaborators, emotional breakdowns, etc.).

One possible next step for utilization of the selfies and additional photos is to put these images in the context of a story. An intentional narrative that captures perhaps a specific project, field excursion, or series of student/faculty interactions may play a more powerful role in helping students identify with scientists. Studies by Lin-Siegler et al. (2016) and others are showing that teenagers who read about the personal and intellectual struggles of scientists feel more motivated to learn science, that part of the successful journey of a scientist includes struggles and setbacks. A suggested template for a scientist selfie story will be presented.