INTEGRATING STORY-TELLING SKILLS INTO RESEARCH EXPERIENCES TO INCREASE IMPACT OF OUTREACH
Texas Tech University students from the Geosciences and Creative Media Industries participated in a NSF-IRES program on strategic metal and mineral resources in the eastern Bushveld Complex, South Africa. The students documented their experiences through the production of content for dissemination via social media platforms. The media-products describe and demonstrate the scientific method, how knowledge and understanding in science evolves through time, and communicate information about strategic metals, their importance to society, and the consequences of mining operations on marginalized communities. The media products were evaluated on a rubric by an independent panel for videography, lighting and sound, and editing. The dispersion of the media products was measured using social media analytics, and their impact on how science and research are perceived was qualitatively evaluated. The results demonstrate that when STEM fields integrate creative industries and strategic communication strategies into their workflow they better meet the goal of communicating their science and increase the exchange of ideas and knowledge between peers. Peer mentoring was also a valued process of increasing trust and respect between the IRES participants. Effective story-telling should be integrated into recruitment and diversification initiatives.