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Week 13 - So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Submitted by dnavon on Wed, 05/03/2017 - 11:42

Happy summer, everyone!  I hope you had a little fun with our last class. This week we borrowed a page (or several) from the Thing Explainer, Randall Monroe's book on explaining complex ideas using only the list of 1000 most commonly used English words.  First, we crafted a short (~30 word) summary of what we do using ONLY those words.  Then we worked to tighten them further to only 280 characters (or a single tweet), injecting in some more complex language while simultaneously preserving the simplicity of the statement.  Historically, folks have pushed back on this exercise, feeling it was too silly or puerile to be truly useful.  To me, the goal of science communication is typically to engage with a broad audience - who care much less about the finer details (however beautiful, elegant, or inherently interesting they may be to someone in science).  Your standard layperson wants to understand the big picture and how your research fits into that - and how your science can ultimately help them.  We can commiserate forever about how sad that reality is, but if our goal is to engage someone who isn't academically minded or morally obligated to care about us (i.e. our parents), we typically have to lay out the broader impacts and cut back on the intricacies.  This year though we seem to have some great big picture thinkers - which is fantastic!

Consider posting your tweets to Facebook or Twitter, though this is totally optional and not officially part of your workload for the course.  Also remember to fill out the course evaluation for me.  Keep an eye out for my feedback on your blog posts - I'm hoping to have these finished by Saturday at the latest.  And make sure you enjoy your summer!  Take care of yourselves!