A Message

This past weekend, I took a Science Writing workshop from the team at the wonderful Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), including an awesome seminar from freelance science writer Katherine Kornei. Here are a few things I learned.

Decide your audience

Have a goal (or a few!)

Break your goal into messages

Distill your messages for maximum effectiveness

Here is my message board!

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And at the bottom, we were given 60 seconds to draw something that represented our message. To represent my message, which is that science is for everyone and scientists are people, too, I drew a person who is half in lab gear, and half in a dress with a cupcake (because they like baking!) It was a big hit.

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Katherine Kornei led us on various interactive writing exercises, writing headlines for different publications (with very different styles) and even writing journalistic pieces for various prompts. We were only given a short amount of time, of course, so our pieces were not nearly finished. I will put them in other blog posts so they can be commented on! Those posts are here and here.

The workshop was 10am-5pm, which meant that in order to get from Seattle to Portland and back, I needed to leave Seattle at 6:30am and I returned at around 8:30pm. Long day! When I got back to my apartment the first thing I did was snuggle up with my husband on the couch and play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I do enjoy the long, solitary drive. Long-distance driving was a dreadful bore for me as a child (I would get carsick if I read in the car, and reading was basically my only hobby). As an adult, with the ability to drive myself, I find it relaxing. Our four-day trip from Illinois to Seattle is a very happy memory for me. As is when we drove from Cape Cod to Illinois. Or when we drove from Oklahoma to Illinois. (This is why we named our car Nomad.)

There’s just something precious about having all that time to yourself, with nobody to hear you or look at you. You can talk, you can sing, you can have imaginary conversations with yourself, listen to music you’d rather no one know you like, and just generally be with yourself in a truly mindful way. It was something I needed, I think.

Support OMSI! They’re doing awesome science communication work. Thank you so much to Amanda Fisher for organizing the workshop, and to Katherine Kornei for her help and guidance!

Me as an interviewee

I attended SciTalk 2018 this year in Portland, Oregon. It was a lot of fun! I learned a great deal from the experts and professionals who shared their knowledge and wisdom!

I attended a workshop run by Abby Olena that included a discussion on best practices when being interviewed. I volunteered to be the first interviewee; watch below!

The main suggestions I received afterward:

  • To start with my answer to “why should we care” : Because there are chemicals in space, and we need to be able to see them!
  • To start with a hook, something that catches the audience’s attention

(Also, I blink a lot more than I would think!)

What do you think? Do you have more suggestions for me? Share them below!