Originally published at mhsbroadcaster.org on October 18, 2013 by Naomi Pohl, Co-Editor-In-Chief
“How would you like to edit a science blog?” one of my teachers asked me about a year and a half ago. Well…uh…
At the time, I had no idea what “editing a science blog” meant. To be honest, I barely knew how blogs worked. Even without that knowledge, I was eventually made editor of the curiousYOUNGwriters (cYw) science blog because I had the experience needed with writing, but the position has still been a learning experience for me, to say the least.
cYw is a rapidly growing science blog, sponsored by States United for Biomedical Research, “advancing the art of science communication” through stories about nontraditional animal models and their roles in advancing our knowledge of specific diseases or conditions. What’s unique about cYw is that high school students run the entire operation. Students write and edit every story, and all major decisions are considered by a group of dedicated young scientists/writers. It is by high schoolers and for high schoolers, because who says we’re just kids? Bunny Jaskot, one of cYw’s teacher supervisors as well as former president of the National Association of Biology Teachers, considers working with the blog’s teenage writers to be one of her favorite aspects of cYw. “My spirit and outlook are renewed in our educational system when I connect to [cYw’s] high school participants,” she says.
What’s also unique about cYw’s stories is they are just that – stories. The posts aren’t crammed with uncomfortable amounts of scientific language or things decipherable only by a grad student getting their masters in Biochemistry. Rather, they begin with stories about how real people are affected by a certain disorder and only touch on the more technical aspects of the research process, like specific methodologies used. This makes the articles both interesting and informative (plus, if you’re ever doing a school project on current research topics and have no idea where to start, they make great resources.)
Personally, watching the program grow, purely because of student-driven interest, has probably been my favorite part of working for cYw. When I first started editing this one-of-a-kind take on science writing last year, cYw had a collection of nine entries that students from across New Jersey had written the summer before. This past summer was the first time I was involved in recruiting new writers and, as one might assume, I was very nervous. I couldn’t think of many kids who’d willingly write about an animal research model in their already-scarce free time.
I learned quickly that a lot of kids actually are willing to write about this kind of material. In fact, over twice the number of students applied to cYw this past summer than ever before and online traffic continues to increase by the week.
Editing cYw has been a fun challenge for me, not only in learning the technological side of blogs, but also in learning how to communicate better, since most students and teachers who work on the blog live all over New Jersey. However, as I’m graduating high school this year, I’m pleased to hand over the editorial position to Morristown’s own, very capable, Julia Flores, starting in January. Mrs. Jaskot sums up curiousYOUNGwriters best by saying it has proven that “curious and young teen writers, no matter where they live, can have their lives be lives of influence.” So stay curious, Morristown!
If you’re interested in biology, writing, or current science topics, you can apply to be a writer for the 2014-2015 cYw program starting on March 1, 2014 at http://www.curiousyoungwriters.org.