Curious Science Writers Boot Camp 2022

For a while, I couldn’t really picture a career for myself in science writing. I was aware of scientists and writers, but I was not familiar with any science writers. This changed throughout the Curious Science Writers (cSw) boot camp. All of a sudden, my notepad was bursting with advice from professional science communicators. These guest speakers came from a variety of careers and were all passionate about making science accessible to a general audience. We heard from freelance science writers and editors, directors of communication departments at research facilities and media relations representatives. Each speaker had a specific focus for their class presentation, such as interview tips, editing methods, and ways to incorporate story-telling into the facts and information. I was also excited to virtually visit Astrazeneca/Alexion and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In both of these research facilities, we learned from scientists focusing on a variety of health issues, from using zebrafish as models in regeneration to pinpointing proteins responsible for sickle-cell disease in search of treatments. Through these conversations, I met scientists and science writers who are not only passionate about their work but also eager to share their experiences with aspiring science communicators.

“Through cSw, I learned about the importance of storytelling to make an article more engaging.”

Through presentations, writing/communication exercises, speakers and assigned science readings, I developed a toolkit of skills to prepare me for the process of interviewing experts and writing my article. We practiced decoding scientific papers, a skill which has proven to be invaluable when sifting through countless studies. Our instructors explained each part of the writing process, from brainstorming an article idea to submitting a polished piece for publication. Before arriving at the science writing boot camp, I felt confident in my writing process. However, the boot camp taught me new techniques that I’m excited to implement into my writing. I learned how to prepare for an interview, how to spot certain errors and how to evaluate various information sources. As an avid writer for my school newspaper, I knew how to report the facts in an article. But, through cSw, I learned about the importance of storytelling to make an article more engaging. With the help of award-winning science writer Michael Newman’s presentation and discussion (along with other speakers and exercises), I learned concrete methods of turning news reporting into storytelling, a critical skill in science writing.

“cSw fueled my love for learning.”

cSw fueled my love for learning. Surrounded by students who share my passion for science and writing, I had a blast. Interactive and hands-on activities broke up the day, with science communication “workouts” to explain difficult concepts to one another, writing exercises that included crafting a story from a group interview with a scientist, and discussions on published scientific articles. Our collective excitement transcended the Zoom screen and it felt like we were all together as we bounced ideas off each other and asked questions to the speakers. Additionally, I loved working in smaller groups on various exercises and activities and this friendly setting allowed me to really get to know the other students.

All in all, the cSw boot camp equipped me with the skills to become a strong science writer and I’m so excited to use what I’ve learned to promote science literacy so that individuals from any background can understand, appreciate and value science.

About the Author

Tara Prakash

Tara is a sophomore at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. where she is an editor of her school’s science journal. She joined cSw because she is passionate about writing and science and she is eager to explain scientific concepts in an accessible way for a general audience. Tara believes that while it is crucial to our lives, science has limited value if it is not understood. As a result, she is committed to promoting science literacy. Tara also loves creative writing and her work has been published in literary journals and magazines. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys camping with her scout troop, playing soccer for her school’s varsity team and hiking with her dog.