Talk to Gen Z. They’re the experts of Gen Z.

“To engage younger audiences in science journalism, news organizations have to talk to them to see what sparks their curiosity.”

As a Black woman who is a scientist, science communicator, and STEM education advocate I’m often curious about why these things are separate. My goal is to be more inclusive, learn from younger audiences. and make science more accessible. As a science news Civic Science Fellow, I use science journalism to engage younger audiences in science. This means talking to real teens, getting their honest feedback, and co-designing with them.

Communicating science to the public, especially younger audiences, takes time and outreach.

For my project, I define younger audiences as teens ages 11 to 17. I picked this group, not the older members of Gen Z, because teens are often left out of the equation.

Learning from teens is not an easy task. It means being intentional with our efforts: Analyzing our competitors, doing outreach, and talking to teens and organizations and groups that include teens, especially those who are from underrepresented marginalized groups.

I’m often the FOD (first only different), a term coined by Shonda Rhimes. I want teens of today to understand that they are welcome in the world of science and news. As teens they are the experts of teens, and we value their input.

A big part of making science accessible using science journalism involves co-design and collaborating with teens, organizations, and groups. We compensate the teens who participate in focus groups for their time. By giving teens a voice to share their opinions, we learn what excites them and what they need. If we do it well, science journalism can become part of their regular routines.

The IBM Business Institute of Business Value found that 44% of Gen Z would want to contribute their ideas for product design and 43% said they would participate in a product review. The focus group serves as a method of co-design, but it does not stop there. How will this data and information be reported? Does it make sense for us and the audience? Are the resulting report and news media product accessible? Will the news media product be something that they will engage in and share with others?

Yes, the process takes longer, but it is necessary to engage younger audiences in science journalism. Representation matters.

Martina Efeyini is a Science News Civic Science fellow.

As a Black woman who is a scientist, science communicator, and STEM education advocate I’m often curious about why these things are separate. My goal is to be more inclusive, learn from younger audiences. and make science more accessible. As a science news Civic Science Fellow, I use science journalism to engage younger audiences in science. This means talking to real teens, getting their honest feedback, and co-designing with them.

Communicating science to the public, especially younger audiences, takes time and outreach.

For my project, I define younger audiences as teens ages 11 to 17. I picked this group, not the older members of Gen Z, because teens are often left out of the equation.

Learning from teens is not an easy task. It means being intentional with our efforts: Analyzing our competitors, doing outreach, and talking to teens and organizations and groups that include teens, especially those who are from underrepresented marginalized groups.

I’m often the FOD (first only different), a term coined by Shonda Rhimes. I want teens of today to understand that they are welcome in the world of science and news. As teens they are the experts of teens, and we value their input.

A big part of making science accessible using science journalism involves co-design and collaborating with teens, organizations, and groups. We compensate the teens who participate in focus groups for their time. By giving teens a voice to share their opinions, we learn what excites them and what they need. If we do it well, science journalism can become part of their regular routines.

The IBM Business Institute of Business Value found that 44% of Gen Z would want to contribute their ideas for product design and 43% said they would participate in a product review. The focus group serves as a method of co-design, but it does not stop there. How will this data and information be reported? Does it make sense for us and the audience? Are the resulting report and news media product accessible? Will the news media product be something that they will engage in and share with others?

Yes, the process takes longer, but it is necessary to engage younger audiences in science journalism. Representation matters.

Martina Efeyini is a Science News Civic Science fellow.

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