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Want to become a better science communicator? Try explaining science to a child

Want to become a better science communicator? Try explaining science to a child

A former colleague, also a medical writer, once told met that she liked to ask researchers during interviews to describe their work to her as if she was their elderly aunt. The answers, she said, helped her create easy-to-understand prose about oft-complicated scientific research.

I was reminded of this today when I came across a blog entry encouraging writers to challenge themselves by explaining science to another, most definitely lay audience: children. Communication Breakdown’s Matt Shipman recently did just that and writes:

I’ve thought of myself as a professional explainer for years. Whether writing about environmental policy as a reporter or writing about nanomaterials as a PIO, my job was to explain complicated issues in language that non-experts could understand. This did not prepare me for writing to an audience of kids.

Shipman’s description of his process, and a piece he wrote describing wind to children, are worth a read.

Previously: Researcher shows how preschoolers are, quite literally, little scientists, Why researchers need to communicate the story behind the science and Chris Mooney: Use science to identify effective science communicators
Photo by apdk

2 Responses to “ Want to become a better science communicator? Try explaining science to a child ”

  1. KL Says:

    The stereotype of the “elderly aunt” who can’t understand science needs to be rejected. See this blog and rethink how you think about women and science: http://ggstem.wordpress.com/

  2. Michelle Brandt Says:

    Thanks for the comment, KL. You make a good point, and I actually wrote about the blog you referenced last month: http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2013/04/11/chipping-away-at-stereotypes-about-older-women-and-science-one-story-at-a-time/

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