Escaping the bunker mentality

By Kirsti Ashworth

Save the date! 2016 is the Year of the Future.

A future that’s bright, a future that’s transdisciplinary…

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Image credit: Arnaud Bouissou/MEDDE/SG COP21

On December 13th 2015, the world’s leaders reached a rare consensus and ratified an historic accord designed to limit climate change to 2°C. January 1st 2016 marked the official launch of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the start of the next Assessment Report for the IPCC. These events have shifted the emphasis from investigating and reporting the physical science behind the unprecedented changes we’re seeing on our planet to identifying and implementing strategies to avoid further change (mitigation) or to minimize their impacts (adaptation).

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It’s a zoo out there: Breaking down communication barriers

By Alisha John

Despite countless trips to zoos across the country, there is one elusive species I have never encountered: Scientia normalis. This species is more often referred to by their common name, scientists. Scientists are not normally seen in public, often preferring to remain in their native habitat of the laboratory. Because of this, stereotypes dominate the perception of the entire species and are often reinforced in popular culture and the media. These stereotypes depict a species of mostly older males with unruly hair, glasses, a white lab coat, and a vial of brightly colored liquid. (*cough* Albert Einstein *cough*) Recently, however, there has been an effort to remove some of the mystery surrounding this species and correct the outdated stereotypes.

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Scientia normalis archetype. Image source

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Health literacy — It ain’t just about education

By Silver Lumsdaine

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Drug Package Insert (FDA 115)

“The great enemy of communication…is the illusion of it.” –William H. Whyte

What if 9 out of every 10 Americans had trouble understanding and responding to ordinary traffic signs? It would be a national emergency, of course. Imagine the chaos, the crashes, and the loss of life that would occur if people didn’t know how to interpret stop signs, one way signs, do not enter signs, speed limits, and sharp curve ahead warnings. The public’s health and safety would be in grave danger and immediate action would be required.

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How fireflies illuminated our understanding of the world

By Noah Steinfeld

In the early 1950s at Johns Hopkins University, William E. McElroy, a young professor, wanted to figure out what makes fireflies glow. He would pay a quarter to children in the Baltimore area for every 100 fireflies they brought him. McElroy was regarded as a curiosity in the community: the stereotype of an eccentric scientist. But what these people didn’t know was that as a result of this research, McElroy would one day create a tool that would revolutionize the way scientists do biological research.

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Keep it simple: Explaining (science) with only the ten hundred most used words

By Alisha John

 

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Image credit: Jon Ashcroft

 

“So, what do you do for a living?”

It’s a simple question you’ve probably heard more times than you can count, but it isn’t necessarily easy to answer. When you’re a scientist, jargon is king in your day-to-day interactions. A seemingly simple question like this can induce an internal battle between the highly technical, scientific part of your brain and the social part that wants to relate to people outside your area of study. Winning that battle is only achieved by effectively communicating your work with people outside your field. Continue reading “Keep it simple: Explaining (science) with only the ten hundred most used words”

Opinion: The case for stronger STEM curriculum

By Bryan Moyers

We’re not teaching enough science in universities.

Now, I know, the humanities have been under attack for some time now. Politicians have disparaged them [1], and some science popularizers have even suggested [2] that science has eclipsed them. This pervasive attack has even included the NSF reducing funding for political science [3]. Continue reading “Opinion: The case for stronger STEM curriculum”

Under the hood: Why scientists are a great fit for science communication

By Ada Hagan

 

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Image source.

 

Imagine this. The check engine light comes on in your car.

You drive it to an auto parts store to get the check engine code read free of charge and an employee gives you their best guess for the needed repair. Feeling you have the solution, you drive to your local repair shop (that would have charged $100 to read the code!) and request the repair.

Proud of your resourcefulness, you pay, pick up your car and leave with a swagger to your step.

Until 3,000 miles later when the check engine light comes on. Again.

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