The Illinois Science Council (ISC) is an independent, volunteer-driven 501c3 organization that educates, engages and entertains the adult public about science and technology in our everyday lives. We are inspired and motivated by this Carl Sagan quote: "We live in a society that is exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology."
ISC offers a wide variety of programs designed to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects to the â€œlayperson.â€ We strive to create engaging programs in casual settings where scientists discuss work that is interesting, important and worthy of support, thereby allowing adults to cultivate their innate curiosity about topics in science and technology. Some examples include: the â€œChemistry for Grown-upsâ€ series featuring hands-on chemistry programs about chocolate, beer, whiskey, coffee, cosmetics and honey; the â€œYour Brain on...â€ series featuring talks about the brain and happiness, memory, addiction, creativity, and the neuroscience of love and sex; film screenings of science documentaries with panel discussions; and, science author talks. Programs address all areas of science â€“ from astronomy to zoology and everything in between, and are offered free or at low cost.
We showcase the scientists and research of the Chicago-area institutions and companies that make Chicago the nation's true "City of Science." In addition to our own programs, we promote science outreach programs of other area institutions helping raise public awareness of the extraordinary amount of science research done in this region. Itâ€™s about making science and technology a more common part of general social discourse, making all of us â€“ students, educators, parents, elected officials, professionals in all fields â€“ better citizens, consumers, voters, and generally more well-rounded people!
What new functionality we are looking for
We are significantly limited in expanding our community, providing helpful resources to them and promoting our programs, because we cannot currently make changes to our site quickly and easily. Thereâ€™s a wide array of functions and features that would be terrific add-ons to ISCâ€™s site (and weâ€™re open to all suggestions), but the fantasy wish list here is focused down to those that would have the greatest impact immediately for our work.
The clear top priority for our siteâ€™s functionality is a user interface that allows our non-technical staff and board members to update the site on a regular basis. Our second priority is an event calendar feature. Since our work is so heavily event-based, itâ€™s an embarrassing failure on our part to not have an attractive, user-friendly calendar listing ISC events and relevant programs of other organizations. As a struggling start-up, we would benefit tremendously from improvements to the donor solicitation and volunteer recruitment elements of the site too. Finally, better linkages to our growing social media efforts, along with design and content maximized for SEO would be appreciated but are not as critical.
How the new functionality will help
ISC has developed an impressive track record to date and has great potential for tremendous growth as an organization. However, weâ€™re severely hampered at this stage by our websiteâ€™s limitations, and the inability of our non-technical staff and volunteers to make even the most basic updates. If we could make simple changes to our site, there are two immediate examples of pages with information we want to offer our audience(s) -- one for lay people who are interested in getting involved in citizen science projects, and one for scientists interested in doing outreach. We have the information, but need the pages and the ability to update them continually as we find new helpful information. These two elements would be of tremendous value to us in (1) recruiting volunteers, because we can show them other ways of being engaged with science beyond attending programs; and (2) recruiting scientists who want to do outreach but donâ€™t know how or where to start.
Including a calendar of events feature on the website, along with the two pages mentioned, will help us immediately ramp up our development efforts. We can broaden our fundraising strategy to pursue more corporate and foundation sources of support, in addition to individual donors, because we can demonstrate the range of our programming and the value we provide to both our audience and to scientists apart from live programs. The additional features, such as volunteer recruitment and social media interface, will produce greater synergies for our outreach and expand our ability to offer more and better programming. Any and all of these site improvements will definitively increase our daily productivity many times over.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
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