With technology and science changing so rapidly, it’s a wonder that anyone can keep up with the many emerging technologies or even understand the advances being made. But thanks to pioneering work in science journalism by curiousSciencewriters (cSw), bioscience is becoming more accessible to everyone. And the best part is the writers, editors and graphic designers creating science stories are high school students!
Science is all around us. It has shaped the world as we know it today and will be a major influence on how the world will look tomorrow. So it is imperative that we all should be able to talk about and understand the major forces driving our society forward. Lets face it: once we learn how to talk about science without all the jargon, it really does become easier to understand. cSw is the only science communications program that trains curious and creative teens to bring science in a meaningful and understandable way to a general audience.
On June 11, 2016, cSw hosted its third annual High School Science Communications Forum at Monmouth University. The forum introduced the art of science journalism to the participants and provided insight on how to breakdown complex science topics into meaningful bits of information easily digestible by people with little or no science background.
Several speakers impressed all of us, who share a passion for science and writing, with the importance of writing clear and compelling science stories. Dr. Martin J. Hicks, an assistant professor at Monmouth University, gave an inspiring speech on the relevance of science journalism by discussing his own research. He has spent six years studying RNA and gene therapy. Currently, much of his research centers on glioblastoma. Now “glioblastoma” is one of those scientific terms that few people know. We’ve all heard of cancer, and Dr. Hicks explained that glioblastoma is a malignant brain tumor. He successfully conveyed complex information in a simple manner to a room full of high school students. We actually understood his topic, and none of us has a Ph.D.
Paul McKellips, former executive vice president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, ended the Forum with a memorable talk that reminded us why we write about biomedical research. He gave a telling example of a family struggling to deal with the recent diagnosis of a strange and terrifying disease. When the family researched this disease, the last thing they needed was to be to be stifled by complicated language with no meaning to them. He made it very clear that the family was looking for understanding and hope!