June 28th, 2009 at 9:55 pm (creative science communication)
… where I introduce some Bay Area people spreading the Good Word about science.
On June 18, I attended a retreat for Bay Area science communicators. Attending were wonderful people from science museums and laboratories and schools, but the presence of some people who are also finding creative ways to educate adults about science surprised and delighted me. Here are a few of them.
Brian Malow, Science Comedian
making you *want* to understand the science to get the joke
Brian Malow is the science comedian. He is very funny. But you have to get the science to get the jokes. He says he gets very different reactions from different audiences. As you can imagine, the same joke that makes he American Chemical Society ROTFL can hear silence at a local bar.
I think: Finally! After years of not ‘getting’ popular culture jokes that send my peers into spasms of hilarity, I am of the ‘in’ group. (A nerd in the know!) But I think the promise of Brian’s craft goes way beyond this turning of tables. He’s making steps towards curing a problem that has long troubled me. I’ve often noticed that educated adults are expected to know certain things. We are expected to know who painted The Scream and how Portia relates to Shylock and what caused World War II. However, from quiz shows to dinner conversation, science topics are generally only referred to by their most well-known catch-terms or in the singular vein of the history of science. That’s not right. Science should be everywhere. It is everywhere. Adults should be expected to understand principles of science. And, if our society did expected that, I think they would.
Back to Brian: his science comedy expects and encourages people to know basic science, like mercury is hotter than Earth or that our universe has rules that govern things like matter and light. Scientists and skeptics and rational people aren’t stuffy. We can laugh. And having Brian Malow creating humorous material encourages everyone to come laugh with us.
Dr. Kiki, This Week in Science radio show host
current science chat radio
Kristin Sanford, AKA Dr. Kiki, co-hosts a weekly radio show called This Week in Science. Each week she and her co-host Justin Jackson cover stories from the week’s science news that happen to catch their attention. They chat about the findings like grad students in the lunch room. Sometimes they are intrigued and sometimes a little dubious, but they always add a personal element of why the science in interesting. It’s almost as if they are adding back what the impersonal, starched format of scientific publications takes away.
You can listen to the show live from 8:30 to 9:30 am Pacific Time or subscribe to the podcast. http://www.twis.org/
Kishore Hari, Bay Area Science and Science Cafes
bringing science to the people (in bars)
There was a time when science lectures were considered prime entertainment. Kishore Hari is bringing that era back. Kishore organizes the Down to a Science science cafes, which allow people to enjoy the wonders of science with a drink in their hands. (The best way, I think!) Kishore invites scientists from the local laboratories and universities to give a short, general talk and participate in an extended Q&A about their research. The talks are geared toward the general public and promise to not be stuffy. The events are free and convene at various neighborhood bars.
Kishore’s science cafes are here: http://www.sciencecafesf.com/ You can find a very useful listing of science events in the Bay Area here: http://www.bayareascience.org/ Also, if you live in the Bay Area, you must follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bayareascience/