Student’s Senior Project Aims to Promote Science

OGDEN, Utah – Ron Proctor fears that science is under attack. So he developed a senior project at Weber State University aimed at educating people about science and how it benefits all facets of our lives.

“Science is under attack by people and organizations who demonstrate profound misconceptions about what science is and how scientists work,” Proctor said. “If misconceptions about science can be dispelled, perhaps the attacks will be reduced.”

Proctor, who graduated with a bachelor of integrated studies degree from WSU in May, has created the online community thenatureofscience.org.

As part of his senior capstone project, Ron created a 20-minute video “The Nature of Science.” The video, like the site, is designed to communicate what science is, how scientists work and how individuals can get involved.

WSU faculty members from various scientific disciplines, including astrophysics, geology, microbiology and zoology star in the show. Proctor wrote, produced, directed and narrated the film.

Proctor wants audiences to understand that the term “theory” in science has a significantly different meaning than when it’s used in casual conversation. The presentation explains how scientific theories are developed, tested and refined, and how scientific discoveries lead to improved technologies, expanded understanding and advances in society.

As assistant physics professor John Armstrong states on the video, “Science is power.”

The video—originally shown on the Ott Planetarium dome at WSU—has been reformatted for DVD. Proctor plans to share his message with school children, policymakers and the general public. The show already is attracting international attention; it’s being translated into Spanish by a planetarium in Argentina and Turkish by a planetarium equipment distributor in Turkey. Planetariums in Mexico and New Zealand also have expressed interest in the show.

Producing videos is nothing new for Proctor, who has created several shows and segments for the Ott Planetarium in his role as production coordinator for the facility. Many of the shows he created are now being purchased by other planetariums around the country.

“Everyone is a scientist everyday. It’s all around us,” said Proctor. “I want people to understand there’s room for science in everybody’s life.”

In the fall, Proctor will begin the master of education program at WSU. He’s in the early stages of collaborating with the Brigham Young University Planetarium on a solution for delivering closed captioning and American Sign Language to audiences and individuals with hearing impairments, a project that might inform his master’s degree work.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
Contact:
Ron Proctor, thenatureofscience.org
801-626-6871 • ronproctor@science.weber.edu
Author:
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 • jkowalewski@weber.edu