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Let_s Talk about Science

Final Report Summary - LETS! (Let_s Talk about Science)

To spark interest of children and young people in science, research and their important meaning for the everyday life, that was the intention of LETS!, a project conducted by Radiofabrik Salzburg from January 2007 to February 2008. The community radio station produced 22 half-hour radio programmes in cooperation with scientists of the University of Salzburg: 11 programmes for children, consisting of short radio plays with subsequent studio talks with children and scientists and 11 radio programmes involving scientists and civil society for the target group young adults.

The programmes intend to inspire young listeners to become interested in science and a scientific career, to learn more about specific scientific fields and to awaken curiosity, astonishment and enthusiasm. Further objectives were to promote the dynamic interaction and exchange of information between the scientific community, civil society and young people through radio programmes in collaboration with scientists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and young people. To reach the target groups the youth-appropriate realisation of the scientific topics was a crucial aspect of the production.

First of all a representative logo has been developed which was part of all presentation and public relation material and integrated into the website as well. The project website was set-up bilingually in German and English. It went online in February 2007 and will be available for another five years.

Altogether 22 half-hour radio programmes for young listeners discussing various scientific disciplines from many different perspectives and 6 jingles announcing the project and the singular broadcasts in German and English were produced and made available for free download on the project website. The programmes do not refer to each other or an order and are of timeless implementation so they can be broadcast in any favoured order.

Based on the children's books of Dr Gottfried Tichy, scientist and professor for geography and geology at the University of Salzburg, short radio plays of about 10 minutes were produced, in which scientific phenomena of natural and social science and humanities are explained by young, enquiring piggy Schnüfferl and old, wise raven Habakuk. Schnüfferl has many questions: Where does the rain come from? Why does the moon change his appearance? Can knowledge be dangerous? And many more. The radio plays were recorded with professional speakers and at the post-production much attention was paid to professional dubbing and digital sound-design.

The implementation of fictional identification figures and illustrating sound helps children to pay special attention to the shows. In subsequent studio talks children had a chance to ask questions to two scientists in relation to the just heard radio plays and to relate the new information to their everyday life. Key topics were explained again and simple experiments conducted to demonstrate physical phenomena in a coherent way. Songs for children complete the half-hour radio shows for young listeners.

Within the evaluation of the project LETS! it became evident that those programmes are quite intelligible for the target group and have the potential to awaken interest, curiosity and enthusiasm in dealing with science. It is advisable to address the audience in such programmes directly in everyday speech, to relate topics to examples of everyday life and the life world of children and young people and to bring in humorous sequences. For awaken astonishment and inquisitiveness the information must be new to the listeners. Longer passages with high information density or pure music have to be avoided and a balance has to be found between content and recreating passages as well as feminine and masculine voices.

The implementation of (real or fictional) identification figures, for example as interview partners or actors, helps children to follow. Choosing a fictional story to impart knowledge to children is an appropriate way, whereby possibilities of dramaturgy, storytelling and acting (identification) figures should be exploited. Gender, educational background of the parents and media usage have influence on the reception of radio programmes - concerning to the teenagers that were involved into the evaluation. To reach teenagers with such programmes the target group has to be constricted and differentiated.