In school and college, science students of science are often told that the spelling mistakes in the answer sheets will not lead to loss of marks – unless, of course, that changes the meaning, as in ficus/cycus or sulphide/sulphite,… And, of course, grammar is also not an issue in science education. This sets the stage for the development of scientists who do not care for language and communication.
Since it is difficult to shake off the attitudes and values learned when young, Degree level students are the first target for the workshops. As they become researchers and scientists, they have less time to devote to a workshop. Considering these limitations and to meet the specific needs of different target groups, three types of workshops have been designed.
These workshops work best with a maximum of 14 and a minimum of 8 participants. The rationale for this is provided here: Class Strength_Structure Function
Workshop on Science Video Production:
Bachelors’ and Masters’ level students are the target group for this series of workshops. The attempt is to attract them with the glitz and glamour of media. So the workshop focuses on video medium.
The duration of this workshop is one month.
In the first week, participants are oriented to the video medium using presentations, demonstrations, discussions and role plays. From the second week, they start researching a topic of their choice, writing scripts, shooting, editing, mixing sound and finalising their products. During this time, necessary guidance, feedback, coaching and mentoring are provided. Theory is also discussed in the context of their practice.
By the end of workshop, each participant produces one short video – 1 to 10 minutes long, on any scientific topic of their choice. Each participant also gets to play the role of script writer, camera person, sound recordist, editor etc. since they help out with the productions of other participants.
Samples of videos produced in past workshops are available at www.youtube.com/user/ISMCstudentwrkshps
One-Week Workshops on Writing Science
This workshop focuses on writing. People with Masters’ degree in science form the target group.
As with the workshop for journalism students, there will be intensive inputs on various aspects of science and of writing, using a discussion forum.
The workshop will leverage on the existing interests and scientific knowledge of the participants. The workshop will focus on building writing skills. Besides clarifying the principles of communication, there will be some presentations on the essentials of journalistic practice, in writing and in editing. There will also be some demonstrations and some guided practice during the workshop.
By the end of the workshop, participants will have drafts of short reports, articles, blog entries or scripts. Participants gain confidence to deliver well-researched articles.
Two-Week Workshop on Writing Science
The minimum qualification for this course is a Masters degree. PhDs prefered. Committed science communicators are welcome.
The workshop leverages on the specialised knowledge and skills of the participants.
The first week exposes participants to all inputs as in the one-week workshop.
In the second week, participants continue to write on their own. And edit the pieces by other participants. Input on layout and design tools is provided. Production meetings, feedback and mentoring help participants work as a team. Horizontal communication between participants distributes essential skills to all participants. By the end of the workshop, participants research, write, edit and lay out a dummy magazine for popular consumption.
Check out feedback from participants one year after the workshop, here.
The third workshop in this series was held at Thiruvananthapuram in October 2016 and the fourth was held in September 2017.