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KiSOC shows how Science Communication can happen with Instagram

February 1st, 2019

(Translation of an article in: IPN Journal No 4)

Mirjam S. Gleßmer, Martina Kapitza und Sara Siebert for the Kiel Science Outreach Campus (KiSOC)

There is a long tradition of communicating science at the IPN. Be it at scientific conferences with colleagues, in teaching, in communicating the state of the art of educational research to prospective teachers, or in the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt, where children and young people learn about current research issues.

However, science communication also takes place online. Social media scores particularly well in this respect due to their large reach and access threshold. Instagram is a particularly attractive format for science communication, with one billion active users, 15 million of them in Germany, 60% of whom are younger than 30. The platform, which originates in the USA, allows sharing of images and videos and adding of texts. Texts on Instagram are distinctly different from those typically printed.

In science communication, as in any good lesson planning, it is essential to define a communication goal. This then determines a target group for which a message is prepared and which demographics, prior knowledge and interests define. Here we use practical examples to show how we use Instagram at KiSOC's Kiel Science Campus at the level of project communication at KiSOC itself and at the level of the individual scientists involved in KiSOC.


We at KiSOC are concerned with the question of how to convey science in an understandable, motivating and inspiring way. Building on this question, science communication via social media serves to demonstrate the fascination and aesthetics associated with each subject. Using Instagram in this sense requires that you always keep your Instagram account in mind and use every opportunity to take photos for the account. For example, a photo taken during a walk along the Kiel Fjord can open your eyes to physical processes. We use different strategies to connect the photos seen on Instagram with the everyday life of the viewer.


Science communication on Instagram is also useful to give readers an understanding of disciplines and professions. If, for example, communication targets prospective teachers and subject educators, the questions are: What exactly is educational research in a specific subject and how can one imagine the everyday life or career of a professor? What is particularly exciting about the following examples is that two female scientists inspired by the Instagram activities at KiSOC to create their own Instagram presence report here from the perspective of their careers, which are already well advanced, and thus provide insights otherwise not easily accessible to students.