Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Science Videos from the Class of 2010

Hello Blogosphere!

Science Communication students are ready, willing and able to tackle any communication challenge that's thrown our way.  With a little help from our mentors, that is.  The Class of 2011 proved this when they were invited to work with M.Sc. Biology students at Laurentian University to produce science videos.

The students divided themselves into production teams.  Each team was responsible for everything from planning and scripting, to fliming and editing their videos.

All of the videos were a huge success, but don't take my word for it.  Thanks to our new YouTube channel, we're able to share a video from each company.  Check them out for yourself!

Oxygen: The Other Silent Killer
Produced by REEL Science

New World Diseases
Produced by BioFilms

The Search for Bio-Fuels
Produced by SciMax

These videos make me really excited for our Mass Media class!

What do you think?


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Food (and Drinks) for Thought- The School Year’s Inaugural Science Café

 The night of September 13th found me settling in at the Laughing Buddha with a pint and some friends for a bit of recreational science communication. Science North was hosting its first non-health related Science Café, a discussion of food safety, food security and food sovereignty with a particular focus on Sudbury’s local food system.

As a food scientist by training, I’m the first to admit that our current food system is fraught with problems. Luckily, there is a wealth of knowledge to draw on for improvements because everyone is part of our food system.  The Café gave the audience the opportunity to consider their role in the food system in a new way and to ask the panelists for their opinions and advice.

The Café consisted of a facilitated group discussion preceded by short presentations by Julie Poirier Mensinga, an Agricultural Business Specialist for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Amy Hallman, the Northern Ontario FarmON Coordinator for Eat Local Sudbury and  Doreen Ojala, the Project Manager for a local initiative known as the FoodShed Project. All panelists addressed the state of food and agriculture in Northern Ontario. Amy and Doreen are Sudbury residents with strong ties to the community. Their passion for their respective projects was an effective engagement tool for the audience of Sudbury locals.

The audience questions related largely to their point-of-purchase food decisions; baby steps to a better food system. Local foods can be expensive, what should I spend my money on to best benefit the community? Amy shared a quick cost comparison chart illustrating that everyday products like bread and peanut butter can be found at equal or lesser cost at the farmer’s market or local co-op. What can I do at home to help making local easier? Doreen brought a variety of produce that can be grown in Sudbury and speaks to the gardening prowess of local gardeners and FoodShed supporters.

Bigger picture questions were also asked by the audience, like what about products that just can’t grow in Northern Ontario? Do we import or go without? If we do import, what’s the best way to do so? The discussion that followed reflected that sometimes these decisions are tough to make; that one answer might not work for everyone. However by taking the time to consider the bigger picture of our food system, changes are already being made.

The current Science Communication class was only a week into the program at the time of the Café, but in addition to bringing some new observing skills to the night we were able to take a lot away. We were all very impressed with the moderating skills of Science Communication alumnus Leigha. Her ability to interpret audience questions for the panelists kept their responses as relevant and concise as possible.

What was apparent from the Café is that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for our food system, but improvement is possible. There are over 6 billion people on this planet, all of whom are entitled to food as a basic human right. How to feed such a huge population in an efficient, nutritionally sound, safe and sustainable way is a huge and overwhelming undertaking. By taking a personal interest and having discussions like the one started at the Café, piece by piece we can build a brave, new food world.

For information on the panelists and upcoming science cafes, click here.

Hayley Rutherford

Bountiful Boreal Forest

The opportunity to publish in the local newspaper, The Sudbury Star, was introduced to us within the first few weeks of class.  It was twenty four short hours later when we heard the news – one of our own had already submitted a story!
Within the week, our very own Ellen Jakubowski published her first article as a Science Communication student – and we are extremely proud of her!
Check it out here : Bountiful Boreal Forest

Hello blogosphere! Introducing the class of 2011-2012.

The school year has begun and the new Science Communication class is off and running!  Our new professors are keeping us busy with tons of interesting discussions, lessons, learning theories and rhetorical strategies.  Some of us have even begun building our portfolios!
We look forward to sharing our work and experiences with you,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Internship Spotlight: Nina

Nina - Laurentian University

For my internship I got to work in the Communications Department for my alma mater Laurentian University. It was almost surreal to have my office - yes, my very own office! - in the very place I had spent the past five years studying.

My work involved interviewing researchers at Laurentian University and writing articles about them. I learned the differences between writing copy intended for print material (such as magazines) and for web content. I was ever-so thankful for the lessons in interview skills that we got from Ruth and Dave in mass media class - they certainly came in handy from day one.

I also got to do research on the history of research at Laurentian to write a retrospective piece - this involved delving into archives and articles and learning so much about Laurentian's past.

The most interesting aspect of my internship was having the time to sit down with researchers from various fields including genetics, sports psychology, engineering, social work, and northern and rural health, and learning about the research that they have been conducting here in Sudbury at Laurentian. I even got to interview some of my past professors and see a whole new side to them that I had not taken the time to notice when I was sitting through lectures and cramming for exams.

I feel that it is very important for universities to communicate their current research endeavours to the public - not only for recruiting new students, but to inform and interest the people who might not realize that Laurentian is on its way to becoming a research university. I am glad to have been a part of this communication effort, and I look forward to seeing my work incorporated into the new Laurentian website!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Internship Spotlight: Sarah

Sarah - Canadian Ecology Centre

Discovering new things about yourself, creating lasting friendships, following your dreams, and challenging others to be their best are all honourable pursuits. What’s even better is getting to do all of these during an internship for Science Communication.

At the Canadian Ecology Centre in Mattawa, I discovered that outdoor education is a passion of mine- I just never had the opportunity to pursue it until now. I had the amazing experience of being able to lead groups of children who have never been in a forest, or a lake, or a river, or a pond before; never experienced the insight of learning about new species of trees, wildflowers, and animals; never experienced the sounds, touch, smells, and sights of the wilderness; never experienced what it feels like to be encouraged to try something new… and I have never experienced the power of nature as I did working with these children.

What made my experience even more memorable were the people that I worked with. Passionate educators, scientists, and enthusiasts who are incredible at what they do. Role models, colleagues, and friends who get up everyday and look forward to the many challenges and rewards that they receive from pursuing their passions. What I wasn’t expecting was how humble, friendly, welcoming, and warm everyone was. These people are there because they love what they do and I soon discovered how contagious that feeling was.

I followed my dreams by choosing a growing organization with quality educational programming that focused on the natural sciences. I wanted to both learn from watching others and receive feedback when I delivered programming. I also wanted to find an organization that was open to new ideas. I helped create a plan to promote their national Green Check GPS Certification Program; created an exhibit guide so they can apply for funding to build some fun and interactive exhibits; and became an outdoor educator, something that I have always wanted to do.

As for challenging others to be their best, I learned how children learn in an outdoor setting. I learned how they see the world, how they see each other, and how they make decisions… and this was only in the first hour we spent with them. You very quickly form a bond with the group you are working with and notice the subtle yet obvious moments that create those sparks of interest that can lead to lifelong passions. These are children who live in an urban environment and who have never stepped foot off pavement except in a city park. There are teens who come with a tough exterior and leave emotional because of the confidence and self-esteem they gained.

This internship was not just a Science Communication internship. This was an experience in learning about myself and learning about others. I developed new passions alongside the children who were developing passions for the first time. I created friendships alongside the children who had never opened up to another person before. I followed my dreams alongside those who were just starting to create them. Best of all, I challenged others to be their best while they challenged me to become my best.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Internship Spotlight: Brittney

Brittney – Toronto & Region Conservation Authority

Write a communications plan? Yes, I can do that. Deliver a school program to kids? Yes, I can do that. Wait a minute... Dave and Chantal said this would happen. So far in my internship I have been able to say “yes, I can do that” to every task I’ve been given. Here in Toronto at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) I have been putting everything I learned this year to good use.
At TRCA we’re all about the water; keepin’ it clean, lettin’ it flow, and puttin’ some elbow grease into the places where water goes. Basically what all that complicated, business jargon means is that TRCA is actively working towards keeping rivers and shorelines healthy, making sure the city has greenspace and biodiversity, and building more sustainable communities. At the heart of all this hard work lies ME – a lowly intern trying to make it in the harsh Authority world! I’ve had the opportunity to get involved with a number of different projects and in doing so learned so much. I have helped in the planning of TRCA’s speaker series “Lake Ontario Evenings” which is a fun night of food, drinks, and guest speakers who know a great deal about Toronto’s water. I have also prepared a communications plan for two projects that the TRCA and partners (such as Environment Canada, DFO, and MNR, to name a few) currently have underway.
The best experience of my internship to date has definitely been the work I did at the Peel Children’s Water Festival. I was teaching children about pollination, pollution and storm drains, and most importantly, teaching them how to plant different plants along the shoreline. I must say, I loved wearing rubber boots to work every day, getting them even dirtier every day, and getting hopped up on allergy medication every day in order to be one with nature! Sounds glamorous, I know, but it truly was a great experience. I put everything that I learned in Live Programming and Presentations to good use.
It always feels good to make connections between the things I learned in school and the things I encounter each day on the job. After surviving the first six weeks of my internship I know that my year in Science Communication was of incalculable value. My placement has allowed for practice of my skills in the real world, continued growth, and proved that the $16.97 that I spent on my rubber boots was totally worth it!
Nearing the end of my time in the Science Communication program I’m feeling like it went by so fast. I enjoyed my classes, my classmates, and my professors. We’re a cozy little family and part of me is sad that we’re all moving on in our lives. Last year at this time I was terrified to head out into the working world, but after a year of Science Communication, I’m happy to say “yes, I can do that.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Internship Spotlight: Lorraine

Lorraine: Science Media Centre of Canada

Behind the scenes of science journalism

I have been spending my internship in Ottawa at the Science Media Centre of Canada (SMCC). It's a non-profit organization, launched in September 2010. Its goal is to raise the level of public discourse on science by helping journalists access science experts and evidence-based research to be able to cover science in the news. Can you tell I have been asked that many times in past few weeks?

And what does the SMCC do to achieve these grand statements?

Well for starters, one of my favorite tasks is preparing the weekly Heads Up newsletter. This means going through the embargoed news releases on EurekAlert and a few other journals such as Nature looking for interesting, relevant, Canadian and international studies. Yes it is true, the journalists get a head start for their articles! The embargo gives them precious time to do a bit of research to prepare their story for their media outlet. We try to find research from a mix of the various sciences (from astronomy and physics to biology and health). Once all the SMCC members decide on the 10-15 most important news stories of the week, it's time to write their summary. The key is finding a catchy title and then summarizing the paper in 2 to 3 sentences. These summaries are suppose to incite journalists to write about this important research.

The rest of the time, we keep busy answering calls from journalists looking for help to find an experts (on lobster packing plant effluents for example) and sometimes with a very short deadline. The SMCC is always looking for new experts and journalists to add to their database; journalists need to know the SMCC exists and the SMCC needs to have a list of experts ready to answer their requests. The SMCC also hosts regular webinars for journalists with a panel of 2-3 experts. Before the SMCC hosts these webinars, the topic needs to be well researched, so the SMCC knows what questions and angle to take in during the webinar. The experts are also carefully chosen, they must be good “talkers” who can explain sometimes complicated science in simple terms. The mix of these various tasks and many others makes for an always busy little office!

I got to take part in Radio-Canada's Sudbury morning show Matin du Nord this Tuesday June 7th at 6:50am; host Yves Dubuc tested my interviewee skills as he questioned me about my experiences as a Scommie and my internship.