Using Pop-Culture Icons To Slip Science into the Mainstream

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Room 110 (VCC West Building)
Communicating science to the general public and popularizing science are necessary and rewarding activities. Providing compelling, relevant, and timely points of linkage between scientific concepts and experiences and the interests of the general public, however, can be challenging. An emerging avenue for popularizing science is to link scientific concepts to images, personalities, and icons already well known in popular culture. Science fiction and superhero movies and television shows are extremely popular and have been so for some time. These represent excellent opportunities for exploring scientific concepts in a mental venue that is comfortable and familiar. Using this common ground, the scientific principles employed (or violated) in pop-culture can then be explored in nonthreatening settings. This approach has been successfully implemented using a multitude of superheroes and connecting them to concepts of physics, neuroscience, and biology. The objective of this session is to share experiences and provide guidance about how to use this outreach to help bring scientific understanding to the broader public. It is the goal of this symposium that by sharing these experiences and approaches, academics may be encouraged to integrate popular culture touchstones in their own outreach and teaching practices.
E. Paul Zehr, University of Victoria
Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University
The Physics of Star Trek
Jim Kakalios, University of Minnesota
Can Superheroes Save the (Science) Day?
E. Paul Zehr, University of Victoria
Can Batman and Iron Man Teach Neuroscience?
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