Sharpen your science communication skills at OMSI workshop

Pop quiz! Which of the following grabs you and paints a clearer picture:

1.  Taphonomy of cervids of a Southern Oregon coast site using scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction

2. Giving some deer and elk bones from an Oregon coast archaeology site a high-tech “Sherlock Holmes” treatment to see if people hunted, butchered, cooked, and burnt or just tossed them out for disposal

OK, maybe neither is especially gripping, but one is a little less jargon-y, right? Maybe a little more friendly to those who speak human?

Bottom line, those two options illustrate that translating science or technical information to public audiences isn’t the easiest thing, not even for someone who made a living writing for the public for a long time as a journalist nor someone who ought to know what that jargon’s all about. (Item No. 1 is the title of my master’s thesis from my research in zooarchaeology.)

If you’re wanting to learn how to make translating your research or science in general easier, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has a workshop coming up that may help.

Many tips on how to better communicate science to public audiences will be covered in OMSI's upcoming workshop, but for more secrets on science writing, check out The Guardian newspaper collection of helpful posts. Freeimages.com

Many tips on how to better communicate science to public audiences will be covered in OMSI’s upcoming workshop, but for more secrets on science writing, check out The Guardian newspaper’s collection of helpful posts. Freeimages.com

Science Communication Extensions is billed as a professional development workshop for STEM-based professionals, which covers anyone in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

OMSI offers SCE workshop about twice a year on various aspects of communicating science. The next one will run from 1 to 3 p.m. May 28 and cover writing for public audiences, including learning how science writers distill research into clear, concise and engaging content for the general public.

The upcoming workshop will be facilitated by Katherine Kornei, a Portland-based science writer for Wired, Popular Science and Discover magazines.

Cost of the workshop is $10, unless you are a fellow of OMSI’s science communications program, which helps train scientists and science students in communications and outreach. If you are one of those fellows, the workshop is free.

And all participants are asked to bring a laptop with a text-editing program if you can.

To reserve your spot or for more information, go to OMSI’s ticketing website.

For more tips about science writing and perspectives on how jargon-y or not to be, check out posts from Popular Science, physicist and science writer (often astronomy) Matthew Francis, and science journalist Ed Yong (National Geographic and beyond).

Susannah L. Bodman
Twitter: @Sciwhat
Facebook: Sciwhat.Science

 

 

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