Science Fact Not Science Fiction in Popular Culture

Sunday, February 14, 2016
Zoe Pettway Unno, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Background:Public scientific literacy continues to be low despite the increasing number of decisions that require basic knowledge of scientific facts and concepts.  An understanding of scientific concepts allows people to participate in the public conversation about issues that impact society.  Scientists recognize the importance of communicating their discoveris and outcomes and seek innovative ways of doing so.  Educators, writers, and artisits engage in creating popular media formats -- comics, graphic novels, and animations -- to cpmmunicate factual science information in accessible and entertaining ways.  Libraries can collect and share these resources with their visitors; therefore, contributing to increasing public scientific literacy.  Methods: An academic library's general and special collection were surveyed for fact-based science comics and graphic novels for inclusion in an exhibition celebrating a science fiction work.  Representative examples of each format were displayed and described to demonstrate the variety of accessible materials that entertain and educate.  Other materials discussed how to use such materials in education.  Results: The science fact exhibit increased awareness of the materials in the library collection that highlight science information in familiar and approachable formas -- leading to greater public engagement with science.    Conclusion: The academic library, with its varied collections, can and should participate in engaging the public in understanding scientific concepts by identifying and sharing materials that are entertaining and educational.