Science Communicators and Teachers: An Inquiry into the Communication of Science on Social Media


This contribution places within the historical nexus between popular scientists and educators in STEM disciplines. It investigates the identities of communicators, be they individual or collective entities, who garner attention from educators within the sphere of social media. The study contemplates the internet's role as both an educational opportunity and a novel informational ecosystem, critically influencing the treatment of scientific subject matter. Through a survey, the research discerned the ten most followed popular science profiles by 213 teachers and researchers spanning various levels (from kindergarten to university), alongside the methodologies employed for sharing pedagogical materials. A rigorous analytical instrument was applied to the quintessential channels within the informational ecosystems of these communicators. The results elucidated commonalities and disparities concerning their commitment to accessible and open dissemination, scientific provenance, communicative adaptability, and diverse communication styles (traditional, colloquial-pop, charismatic, academic/instructive). Additionally, variations were identified in the utilization of social media (narrative, sharing, opinion-making) and profile imagery (identity performance, identity erasure). The investigation delineated two archetypes of science communicators within the realm of social media: educators, encompassing primary school teachers, pedagogues, and university professors, who leverage the internet for disseminating knowledge and didactic materials; and 2.0 communicators, active in scientific research, utilizing the internet as a locus for notoriety and broadening the audience of scientific knowledge. This underscores the proposition that simplifying language and adopting communication styles inherent to the social web need not entail a dilution of content or a compromise of scientific rigor.