GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 228-13
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


LUNDGREN, Lisa, Forestry and Conservation Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, SANTOS, Gabriel-Philip, Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, 1175 West Baseline Road, Claremont, CA 91711-2199, BARBOZA, Michelle M., Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 W. Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007, STONEBURG, Brittney, Western Science Center, 2345 Searl Parkway, Hemet, CA 92543 and ZIEGLER, Michael J., Thompson Earth Systems Institute, University of Florida, 3215 Hull Road, PO Box 112710, Gainesville, FL 32611

Traditionally, people have been exposed to science and scientists in schools (i.e. P-12 and higher education) and at informal science institutions. However, non-traditional venues can act as unique opportunities to expose broader audiences to scientific culture. One such venue is pop culture conventions, or comic-cons. These conventions feature media driven by science-inspired narratives and often portray authentic scientific concepts. These media, including comics, television, and movies, showcase stories where characters routinely defy physics, feature unique planets with diverse geomorphology, and highlight fascinating beasts inspired by Earth’s past. For many, these media are also their first exposure to scientific concepts and scientists, albeit fictionalized. The Cosplay for Science Initiative seeks to capitalize on the unique opportunity offered by comic-cons: the intersection of science and pop culture. In the current study, we sought to study how comic-con visitors perceived science and scientists after interacting with scientists at comic-cons. We distributed a survey in which visitors responded to Likert-scale questions about their perceptions of scientists and their interest in visiting informal STEM centers. The majority of visitors identified as female (n = 14), white (n = 14), and between the ages of 25 and 34 (n = 11). When asked about their perceptions of scientists after interacting with cosplaying scientists, visitors indicated that scientists were similar to other people in their interest of sports, art, and music. Additionally, they perceived scientists equally able to spend time with their families. The majority of visitors indicated that after visiting with cosplaying scientists, they were unlikely to visit a museum (n = 10) although they were very interested in learning more about natural history (n = 18). Overall, we suggest that sharing science in non-traditional venues like comic-cons can reach broader/more diverse audiences who are interested in natural history, but, for whatever reason, are unlikely to visit traditional informal educational institutions. Additionally, we suggest that the survey we developed for this project can be validated and implemented by others who are interested in broadening geoscience science communication initiatives.