A Science Communication Intervention: Demonstration

I am currently intervening in an undergraduate-level science course. Along with the basic science, students will learn how to communicate their ideas and perspectives effectively. Here’s what we are discussing this week: Demonstration.

Readers are naturally skeptical. You have to earn their trust by demonstrating that you have a reason to make a claim, both personally and scientifically. Anyone can say “I am passionate about fighting against climate change”, but only those who actually are can prove it.


Lesson 1: Personal Claims

The Teller

“I am passionate about fighting against climate change.

I think it is my duty, as a human, to protect our planet for future generations. To achieve this goal, I want to continue to learn about climate modeling and work with my mentors to become more effective at talking to policy makers about climate change.”


The Demonstrator

“I work hard to prevent future generations from suffering from climate change.

I have participated in climate-modeling workshops and collaborated with senior climate scientists on their research to become more proficient in the field. I have also attended local meetings and offered my expertise to policy makers.”


How to demonstrate your own personality, expertise, and point of view:

Tell Demonstrate
I know how to use GIS. I use GIS to predict flood hazards.
I am a good leader. As the leader of a team that studied flood hazards, I organized meetings, delegated duties, and oversaw the production of our collaborative report.
I know a lot about forestry. I am on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in forestry by the end of this year.
I feel the impacts of climate change. Even though my family has lived in the Carolinas for generations, I am nervous about inheriting land that is flooded more and more with each hurricane season.

Lesson 2: Scientific Claims


The Teller

“Over time, climate change has made hurricanes, which form over ocean water, much larger and much more dangerous.”


The Demonstrator

“The number of major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has essentially doubled since 1970, likely because hurricanes are fueled by the warmer ocean water and moister sea air.”


How to demonstrate the validity of scientific claims:

Tell Demonstrate
Larger hurricanes cause more coastal flooding. High-magnitude hurricanes produce stronger winds and more rain. Strong winds and rain increase coastal flooding by enhancing storm surge and freshwater runoff, respectively.
GIS is a good tool to use to map flood hazards. GIS can be used to accurately predict flood hazards by mapping predicted storm surge over high-resolution digital elevation models.


Practice demonstrating your claims when you complete your homework this week. Things to consider:

Make a claim at the beginning of your homework response. Follow the claim with specific examples that demonstrate why the claim is true and why your point of view is valuable.

When you make a claim about yourself:

  • Provide an example of a past action that demonstrates your personality
  • List accomplishments or accolades that demonstrate your expertise
  • Provide context to demonstrate why your point of view is relevant

When you make a claim about science:

    • Provide specific examples, statistics, events, etc.
    • Include reliable sources
    • Clearly state scientific cause and effect



Week 1 9/26 Overview and Motivation
Week 2 10/3 Sentence Structure
Week 3 10/10 Purpose and Paragraph Structure
Week 4 10/17 Word Choice
Week 5 10/24 Jargon
Week 6 10/31 Demonstration
Week 7 11/7 Audience and Framing
Week 8 11/14 Review

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