Science and the Public

Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
199: MW 3:30 - 4:45 PM
Fall 2017

Some people think of scientific research as an academic specialization and don’t see how it relates to them. It is important that scientific research is not just understood by academics and professionals in science and technology fields, but also by policy makers, educators, school children, reporters, and the general public, all of whom will be directly impacted by things like medical advances, global pandemics, bioethical dilemmas, natural disasters, and threats to the environment.

In this course students will discuss current science topics in the news and how they relate to their lives and to specific populations. Topics will cover a variety of science disciplines, largely driven by student interest. No specific prior knowledge is required. The course will focus on how claims, evidence and reasoning are used to create scientific explanations and how these are communicated to the public- in the news, in schools and through other community outlets. An understanding of these fundamentals of science will stimulate students’ critical thinking skills and help them become more informed citizens.

To explore how science is portrayed and understood in local communities, students will help to develop and implement educational programs at schools, libraries and other community organizations.  Assignments will integrate research, case studies, presentations, argumentation, creativity and collaborative work.  By the end of the semester, students will have gained a deeper understanding of science as a way of knowing and an appreciation of community engagement.


Marta Toran is the Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences. She develops and facilitates science programs for K-12 students and their teachers both on campus and at their school. She is also an adjunct instructor in the Biology Department where she has taught aspiring middle and high school science teachers in the Secondary Science Education Program. Marta studied zoology at the University of New Hampshire and worked in marine laboratories before she headed to the UK to complete her science teaching degree at Oxford University. After teaching science and Spanish in middle and high schools in both the UK and the US, she went on to get a Masters of Science in science education at Montana State University. Marta’s interest in outreach stems from a conviction that sharing the passion scientists feel towards their research with school students and their teachers will not only inspire the next generation of scientists, but will also help students become responsible citizens of the world.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

QEP Global Learning