Inspired by a conversation between post-docs at a science and education conference, the Tufts’ TEACRS (Training in Education and Critical Research Skills) and TII (Tufts Innovation Institute) worked together to host a community outreach event this May. The “Meet the Scientist” event took place on the Medford campus and consisted of a science faculty-hosted panel session and an activity session, with attendees including local families and students from all levels of schooling. The panel session allowed community members to ask insightful and probing questions of Tufts faculty that facilitated an open, honest, and engaging conversation about science and science research. Following this, the activity session consisted of six stations hosted by TEACRS post-doc trainees. Children, teens and adults alike had the opportunity to play with silk and DNA legos, to look at flies and talk about circadian rhythms, to isolate some of their own DNA, and to watch how music played from a mobile phone could make a cockroach’s leg muscles move.
With a strong turnout and enthusiastic hosts as well as attendees, this event succeeded in strengthening bridges between Tufts’ scientists and the local community. This type of connection is a significant component in narrowing the gap between the public and their understanding of science and strengthening trust in scientists and the work we do.