cSw 2016 High School Science Communications Forum

On June 11th, the new cSw class of 2016-17 gathered in Bey Hall at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ. Students arrived bright and early to eat a delicious breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and some small bagels and chat with fellow writers, editors, and program directors.

After a warm welcome from Jayne Mackta, cSw’s Creative Director, MU’s own Martin J. Hicks spoke passionately about his search for an effective therapy for glioblastomas, or brain tumors.

To be a good science writer, you must read a lot of good science writing.

Following Dr. Hicks’ inspirational presentation, student staffers raced to present one-minute reviews of well-known science bloggers. Searching for the secret of being an effective communicator, the exercise energized the entire audience and gave a sense of purpose to the Forum.

Laura Vorbach, arguably the brightest and most entertaining presenter of the day, presented her Social Media plan for this year. She emphasized the importance of sharing cSw science stories through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and cSw’s brand-new Instagram.

Julia Flores, previous cSw Chief Editor, interviewed Naomi Pohl (UPenn) and Nicole Tsai (Yale) about science writing on the college level. Naomi described the risk she took to publish her research on the real, not-so-helpful effects of a university program designed to help students in poor Philadelphia schools.

Next up on the packed schedule was lunch. During a warm, well-earned break from the frigid Young Auditorium, individual teams consisting of writers and their student editor met with their professional Comms Mentor to discuss the cSw process for researching and writing science stories for a general audience.

After workshops on writing and editing techniques, students gathered in Young Auditorium for an engaging presentation by keynote speaker Paul McKellips. He spoke of his work as a writer for the Pentagon and State Department in Afghanistan. He focused on the need to reframe the role of animals in the search for cures and treatments in personal, emotionally moving terms to captivate readers.

After a quick recap by Chief Editor Katie McCreedy, the Forum drew to a close. The now cohesive group posed for a photo in the beautiful campus courtyard outside Bey Hall and then headed home to begin work on their assignments.

Vorbach advocates use of #CuriousScienceWriters
Vorbach advocates use of #CuriousScienceWriters

Photo Credit: Alexa Wyszkowski