I'll be visiting Arizona this week to attend the very first COPUS UnConference. COPUS or the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science, made very big waves a few ago with the big yearlong celebration of all things science: Year of Science 2009. Everyone from professional scientists and engineers to K-12, community college, and university educators and their students, to Scout troops and community after-school programs jumped on the bandwagon.

The Conference, or rather UNConference will be a participant-driven meeting with us creating the agenda once all of us are together. With this being the very first conference of its kind -- to specifically focus on science outreach and public engagement in science from a variety of perspectives -- the roster of participants, 65 in all, come from education, academia, industry, as well as hobbyist and science communicators of every sort. This much is for certain: we'll focus on three major themes:

1) Building a community of public science engagers,

2) Defining the overarching issues in public science engagement, and

3) How to measure the impact of public science engagement locally, regionally, and nationally.

The goals of the meeting are to

  • strengthen and expand the COPUS network by creating new connections among attendees during and after the meeting;
  • create an architecture of engagement for future science convenings that cross domains of science outreach (informal, formal, academic, and corporate) that do not normally interact, but need to;
  • provide direction for future activities of the COPUS community by evaluating what is currently being done, identifying new needs, and building upon ongoing successes; and
  • provide a new forum and recognition for those conducting public outreach.

If this kind of conference appeals to you, then please don't fret. COPUS is a national organization and our first commitment is building a stable network of like-minded individuals, institutions, and groups. You (and your organization) can join COPUS right now. No charge. Once you're registered you can locate and connect with others who are nearby OR share similar outreach interests anywhere in the US.

And we would love to have you join in on the conference and the conversations we'll be fostering at the Unconference. Here is the link to the COPUS Unconference Wiki. You can also follow COPUS on Twitter - @COPUScore Once you've joined the COPUS network, send them a tweet and tag it with the hashtag #COPUS. And whenever you want to share anythings about public engagement or science outreach, please use the hashtag #sci4all - for anything related to public engagements/outreach of science. You can also join the COPUS Facebook Group.

You know I'll be live-tweeting, so feel free to share your questions and comment with me on Twitter or here.



demystifying nature, letting everyone experience