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Nudge-it team members boost their science communication skills

Young scientists from the Nudge-it attended the STEAM Summer School 2017

The STEAM summer school is a 10 day intensive science communication training course, taking the traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and including an ‘A’ for Arts. In this, its second year, the school was being held in Marathon, on the outskirts of Athens, and amongst many others was attended by 2 Nudge-it ESRs.

The event was organised and delivered by a diverse range of speakers from a variety of different backgrounds and institutions, which allowed participants to explore the range of different opportunities available in the field of science communication. The week consisted of various sessions including lectures on presentation techniques, dialogue, how to be an effective facilitator, and how to evaluate science communication initiatives. These were often followed by a range of practical activities designed to put these skills in to practice, such as designing activities aimed at school children, planning media strategies, and practicing our interview and journalism skills.

As well the lectures and practical’s during the day, the participants were also responsible for organising two evenings of entertainment. STEAM summer school 1The first required the participants to split into groups and write and perform two pieces of science theatre, as well as organise a FameLab style competition where participants had to prepare an entertaining 3 minute scientific talk for a lay audience. Those who weren’t performing were also kept extremely busy in other roles such as publicising the event to other hotel guests, writing/directing, and ensuring the overall smooth running of the evening. The pressure of putting on such as large scale event in only 3 days, whilst stressful, was also highly rewarding, and everyone learnt a lot about the complexity of event organisation, as well as performing in front of a large audience.The second event, which was towards the end of the summer school, was to organise a Bright Club style evening of scientific stand-up comedy. Considering the lack of comedy experience amongst the performers, the night was full of laughs and enjoyed thoroughly by both the participants and audience members.

Our day off involved a day trip to Athens where we received a guided tour of the Acropolis museum and the Observatory, followed by some free time. Due to the scorching hot weather, many were forced to retire to the shade of a bar for the remainder of the day!   On the penultimate day we travelled to the Odeon of Epidaurus, an ancient theatre with fantastic acoustics that is still regularly used for performances. This was followed by a workshop on using video as a science communication tool, before we completed our final practical exercise of filming and editing a short scientific film.   Overall it was a fantastic learning experience, attended by a wonderful variety of researchers, students and teachers.  I’m sure many of us will use the skills we learnt during the summer school in the future and hopefully become the next generation of science communicators!

STEAM summer school 2