PBS NewsHour Coverage of Post-Harvey Research of Extreme Weather
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.
This RAPID project was submitted in response to the NSF Dear Colleague letter (NSF 17-128) related to Hurricane Harvey along the Gulf Coast. The PBS NewsHour team will produce 9 stories for national distribution using multiple broadcast and online channels that will engage the public and increase their understanding of the science and engineering research being conducted to better predict and mitigate the impact of future storms. Hurricane Harvey was the first of several storms in 2017 that hit first Texas then Florida and the Caribbean creating unprecedented devastation. This project aims to help the public better understand the science behind storms, and how scientists and engineers are actively collecting data, developing new models, using new technologies, and studying the environmental recovery. The PBS NewsHour team has in place experienced science journalists, production facilities, and a distribution network that can quickly develop media stories based on the work of scientists and engineers in the field, many of whom are funded by NSF. The NewsHour has a strong track record of telling stories that are scientifically accurate yet highly engaging and understandable to a diverse audience. Researchers from several universities including Texas A&M, Rice University, and Norfolk State University are advising the NewsHour team and may also be featured in some of the media. The team will also use their existing collaboration with education researchers at New Knowledge, Inc. to seek audience feedback on proposed/produced media.
The potential audience reach of these stories is extensive. Stories that are broadcast on the nightly PBS NewsHour reach 1.6 million people. The NewsHour's website currently reaches 6 million while their YouTube channel has 40 million views. They have a growing audience of younger viewers who mainly get their news on social media channels such as ScienceScope and Apple News. EXTRA is another service offered just for teachers.