On Friday, Louise and I went along to our first London SciComm Symposium, having both been more and more involved in various SciComm events recently.
Louise co-organised Reading’s Planet Earth Pint of Science events this year, did a stand-up set at Science Showoff in London and has been doing some fantastic SciArt, while I’ve been blogging away as per usual on here, via guest posts on other blogs, and sharing other scientists’ thoughts via the HEPEX blog. I also helped out with the Pint of Science flooding evening, and we both spent an afternoon helping to run the Water@Reading tent at the University of Reading’s Big Band Lunch, where kids and adults alike came along to play a virtual reality flash flood game and add to our river art masterpiece. We’re also hoping to announce a collaborative SciComm project in the coming months which we’re pretty excited about!
The SciComm symposium was a day for discussions surrounding various aspects of Science Communication, with talks and panel sessions focusing on informal SciComm (freelancing, SciComm-ing while researching, …), formal SciComm (science communicators working in Universities, research centres, museums, …), and on “Why?” – why do SciComm?
In this post, I’ve rounded up the top 10 things I took away from the day as lessons learned and food for thought:
- There is no one who thinks science is not important (“there are just those who go to science museums, and those who don’t”) – i.e. we don’t need to spend our time convincing people science is important!
- The importance of asking “what are you trying to achieve?” through your SciComm / public engagement activity – define it by the outcomes, rather than the activity itself.
- Science shouldn’t be presented as something that is done, or something that is set in stone – science is a process that everyone can contribute to!
- While many people wouldn’t identify themselves as a scientist, an artist etc., most people can identify with being curious.
- “Science is brimming with amazing stories”, and not just about the science, but the human stories behind the science.
- Science can be fun, but it’s not always – should “science is fun!” be the message that we so often try to convey?
- It’s important to approach your audience and ask for feedback while you develop your work – there’s little point trying & testing on people who aren’t your target audience!
- Be yourself (and be brave) – bring your personality, values and passions to your science communication.
- Reach out, look and ask for opportunities, get involved!
- How do we foster a culture where people are empowered to be curious, ask questions and explore the answers together?
After the final session, we heard 10-second snippets from audience members on SciComm projects they’re working on or felt inspired to start during the symposium, which was a fantastic way to end the day. I definitely left London feeling inspired to keep working on my blog and expand my audience, get involved in more SciComm and public engagement events, and work on new projects!
To read more thoughts from the day from other science communicators, check out #LSCS18 on twitter.
Edit: I also just came across a brilliant blog post by PhD Student Steve Gibney, who also wrote about the London SciComm Symposium – make sure to check it out here!