Preparing an SOS Presentation
The existing SOS sites have taken different approaches to preparing for SOS presentations. Whatever approach you take, make sure to have a plan and be prepared. Watching other docent presentations can be a great way of learning new things and picking up helpful techniques for explaining datasets. This section includes some tips for tailoring your presentation to a changing audience.
Choosing a PlaylistPermalink to Choosing a Playlist
Consider these questions before you decide on a playlist for your presentation:
- “How much time do I have?” You should use a shorter list, rather than cutting yourself short
- “What’s the average age I am dealing with?” You can have different playlists for 2nd graders (who often study weather) than for 8th graders (who have been likely digging into plate tectonics, perhaps even climate and oceans)
- “What are some interesting current events that could be worked into the details of the presentation?” (e.g., the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.) Often the most profound moments in an SOS presentation are those that correspond with recent well-known global (or local) events. It’s easy to stay up to date with EarthNow, a blog designed to keep you in the loop on SOS and current events!
Tailor Your PresentationPermalink to Tailor Your Presentation
Science On a Sphere® is a great tool for presenting scientific data in an intuitive and engaging way. The data catalog that comes with SOS consists of over 300 datasets. As a docent, you will need to decide which datasets to show during your presentation. The number of datasets shown during a live docent presentation will vary depending on the length of the presentation, your depth of knowledge of the datasets, the attention span and age of the audience, and the purpose of the presentation. There are many different ways to choose which datasets to show. For example, you could create a show of all your favorite datasets, or only real-time datasets, or datasets relating to a specific topic such as animal migration, or datasets based on audience requests.
Create a Theme and a Take-away MessagePermalink to Create a Theme and a Take-away Message
One recommendation from many SOS docents is to choose datasets that help you tell a story. Pick a theme and a “take away” message that you want your audience to grasp, and then choose datasets that support that message. There should be a logical order to the datasets that you choose to help build a natural flow for your presentation. All of your datasets should relate back to your theme and the “take away” message. At the end of your presentation make sure to summarize what has been covered and finish with a conclusion. Do not simply stop presenting when you get to the last dataset. Help your audience recognize the “take away” message from the presentation.
Study the Descriptions and be Ready to Answer QuestionsPermalink to Study the Descriptions and be Ready to Answer Questions
Before giving a presentation it’s critical to understand the datasets that you will be presenting. Make sure that you can provide a general description of where the data came from, what it shows and why it’s important. Be ready to explain what a model is if you are showing model data. If there are any colorbars or legends, make sure to explain them to your audience. The SOS Data Catalog is a great place to start for a general overview. In most cases, it is helpful to dig a little deeper and find more information elsewhere. Make sure that you are using reputable sources for your research and that the information you pass along to your audience is scientifically accurate. As docent, your audience will look to you to answer any questions that they might have. Do your best to answer questions, but know that it’s okay to tell the audience you don’t know the answer. Do not make up an answer! You can offer to look up the answer and provide it later, if possible. You can also encourage the audience to research the answers to their questions when they get home. If possible, have references available to hand out or refer to them on your website.