Curious Science Writers (cSw) is a training program for exceptional high school students with a passion for science and writing. Created to “advance the art of science communication,” cSw is an innovative, extracurricular program that prepares highly motivated high school communicators to bring complex biomedical science to the general public through the power of story. Founded in 2010 by Jayne Mackta, past president of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research, cSw is now hosted by Americans for Medical Progress which has expanded the initiative. AMP continued to run cSw both before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 and 2021 summer Boot Camps were held virtually for safety reasons.
The program consists of pre-program work, attendance to a week-long virtual boot camp, and post-program work.
Writers are required to research an assigned bioscience topic, actively participate in a 5-day boot camp and develop their story the month following the camp. Writers are mentored by professional science communicators. Students will work closely with their mentor to evaluate sources, identify a content expert to interview for their story, prepare for the interview, discuss possible storylines, incorporate feedback on structure, clarity, and ability to engage public audiences.
The resulting stories are edited and published throughout the academic year following the summer Boot Camp. Prior to publication, writers are required to attend a meeting with the editorial team and provide requested edits to their article.
Editors, graphic designers and social media coordinators are required to become familiar with the assigned bioscience topics, actively participate in a 5-day boot camp and participate on the editorial team. This will include meetings and training sessions after the camp and throughout the academic year.
The 5-day boot camp provides intensive training and skill-building for writers, editors, designers and social media coordinators. The program includes faculty and guest speakers who are professional science writers and science communicators. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with scientists and others involved in the biomedical research community.
Who should apply?
The program is open to all curious and creative high school students. Preference is provided to those currently in grade 10 or 11.
How many positions are available?
cSw accepts up to 24 writers, 2 editors, 2 graphic designers and 2 social media coordinators for the Curious Science Writers Class. Training will primarily occur during the summer, with some sessions occurring during the academic school year, depending on the position. Read the cSw Position Descriptions here.
- Application Period, January 15 – May 15: Until all slots are filled
- Story Assignments, June 15 – July 15: Students are assigned a biomedical research topic to cover. They collect information about the topic (e.g. scientific literature, science-based websites, reliable news coverage).
- Boot Camp, July 12 – July 16: Virtual program from 9 a.m – 5 p.m. Mornings will consist of course content, guest speakers, and interactive activities. Afternoons will consist of independent work and group exercises.
- Story Development, July – August: Working with a professional Communications Mentor, each writer will produce a carefully researched, clear and compelling biomedical science story for a general audience. Interaction is online; preferred means of communicating (email, skype, telephone, etc.) will be agreed upon by writer/mentor. Editors, designers and social media coordinators will attend one to three additional training sessions during this time frame.
- Story Editing and Publishing, August 2021 – June 2022: Editing and publishing will happen between August and June of the 2021-2022 academic year. Each student writer will be required to attend one meeting with the editorial team via web/call and provide edits as requested before the story is published. Editorial team members (editors, designers, social media coordinators) schedule to be determined post-boot camp.
Candidates are accepted on a rolling admission basis. Applications will be closed when all slots are filled.
$350 Early Registration (before April 1). $450 Regular Registration. Scholarships for those in need are available. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on scholarships.
- To provide foundational skills needed to produce clear & compelling science stories
- To model the real-world science communications experience
- To expose participants to career opportunities in science communications
Staffed by professional communicators with extensive expertise in science writing, the cSw Boot Camp will offer up to 30 select students an intensive short course in producing clear and compelling science stories for a public audience.
Students will interview a content expert relevant to the biomedical science story they are researching and writing and be paired with a mentor actively working in the field. The month following the day camp will involve writer/mentor interaction while students write their stories. Stories are then sent to the cSw Editorial Team. This experienced student team, which includes a Senior Editor, Creative Team Manager and Social Media Manager, will work with new student editors, graphic designers, social media coordinators and writers to polish, publish and promote stories throughout the academic year.
What is the profile of the ideal cSw Candidate?
- Curious, creative and committed to advancing the art of science communication
- Open to constructive feedback
- Prepared to revise stories, rework graphics and/or promote stories
- Self-motivated and self-disciplined but also a team player
- Not afraid to ask questions regarding roles and responsibilities
- Organized and able to meet deadlines
- Passionate, expressive, and open to learning new ideas and skills
- Willing to work hard
- Genuine desire to be a Curious Science Writer
Thinking about applying? You will need to complete an application and submit three additional forms: two recommendations, one from a teacher and one from a supervisor for an activity outside of school and also a parent consent form.
Applications for the 2022/2023 class will open in January 2022.
Questions? Contact the cSw Program Coordinator at email@example.com.