The science of communication: Young physicists challenged to make their work more accessible

Posted by er134 at Nov 17, 2014 10:40 AM |
The University of Leicester has launched a contest to find the best science communicators in the East Midlands

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 November 2014

  • The competition, 3-Minute Wonder, will feature graduates, researchers and A-level students

 

  • A panel of four judges will mark each contestant out of 10 – much like the popular BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing

 

  • The aim is to make physics more accessible to a wider audience

A competition which combines describing Newton’s laws of motion with the rules of Strictly Come Dancing has been launched to challenge young scientists to communicate their work to a wider audience.

The University of Leicester is hosting a contest which invites physics graduates, researchers and A-level students to communicate the finer points of science in a clear and concise way.

The event, 3-Minute Wonder, will see six participants pitch their research (for graduates) or ‘the physics of everyday life’ (for A-level students) to a panel of four judges in an engaging and understandable way.

They will then be scored out of 10 – much like the popular BBC One dance show – with the winner being the closest person to 40 points.

The aim of the event is encourage scientists to communicate their research to those who have no academic experience of physics.

“If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough,” Albert Einstein once said.

The concept was also echoed by the Nobel-winning, bongo playing theoretical physicists Richard Feynman – who is regarded as one of the most successful science communicators of recent times.

Organiser Dr Darren Wright, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “The 3-Minute Wonder is a competition aimed at giving young people an insight into what it is like to communicate science effectively, to bring together current and future scientists and to demonstrate that they are supported nationally by the Institute of Physics.”

It is the second year the competition has been held and is sponsored by the Institute of Physics. The winner will receive £250.

Also among the panel of judges will be Dr Paul Abel, who features on the BBC's the Sky at Night, and Leicester Mercury reporter Peter Warzynski.

Dr Abel said: "All of our lives are vastly improved by understanding science, it makes an enormous contribution to the quality of our lives. This is why it is important for scientists to communicate their ideas and the philosophy of science to as broader audience as possible."

Mercury reporter Peter Warzynski said: “Science is one of the hardest topics to communicate to an audience if they haven’t got any prior knowledge of the subject.

“It’s very easy to lose the bigger picture because you can get focused on technical details which, more often than not, don’t really need to be explained.

“Using textbook terminology or reciting scientific principles might sound impressive to the layman, but it’s not going to help them understand anything.”

The competition will take place on Thursday 20 November, at the University of Leicester’s Bennett Building at 6:00pm.

For more information, contact Dr Darren Wright at: dmw7@le.ac.uk

Ends

 

Notes to editors:

For more information, contact Dr Darren Wright at: dmw7@le.ac.uk

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