Ada Lovelace Day – Do we show the full story?

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This Tuesday the internet was widely celebrating Ada Lovelace Day, an occasion often used to point out the achievements of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Today I’m going to be my contrary self and discuss a problem I have with how we portray Ada Lovelace Day.

Biography

Firstly, I’ll recap Ada’s background for context, though I’d also recommend reading either of these articles about her for more information.
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Am I enough of a scientist?

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A few weeks ago, I read a science journalism internship advertised on a sci-comm mailing list. The internship seemed like a good fit in terms of hours and responsibilities- it included adapting published articles into lay summaries, something I would be interested in. However, the company focused on bioscience and lab science, which I’ve not studied. I could understand the lay versions, but I couldn’t clearly grasp the original articles. So I never applied for that internship, as my biosciences knowledge currently isn’t strong enough.

Thinking about this let me better articulate a background worry/fear that’s been present since I finished my course: that I don’t have a strong enough science background to take part in many aspects of scicomm.
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A Sci-Comm Renaissance?

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News from the last three weeks has been bad, to say the least. Both Britain and America have seemingly been bent on destruction and bridge-burning. Yet despite being anxious about just what will happen next, I’m also a little bit curious as well.

One of the few good parts about the previous three weeks is how people have often responded to protect and support others. Social networks have shared resources for contacting politicians, lawyers and advocates, and advice on how best to do so. Widespread protests and calls for mobilisation have made some meaningful changes, called attention to the wrongs which would have remained away from the spotlights, and delayed political decisions. People aren’t taking the changes as quietly as either Trump and co. or May and co. had wanted. And I hope this atmosphere of fighting back will continue, and lead to bigger changes.

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Volunteering: British Science Association

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So  I finally remembered to attend a BSA meeting, after probably a year of reading the email chains but not participating.

 

Since the last time I went, there’s been plenty of turnover. Many of the people taking leading roles last year have moved away,  but there were also a lot of new faces at the meeting- for most, it was only their first or second meeting. Mostly, everyone was either a student, or already working in a scicomm or science role- I’m the only person studying scicomm but not working in it.

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Science Communication on YouTube, Part #2

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This post follow part 1, where I looked at the type of videos and channels appearing on YouTube searches for science communication. 

While there’s a lot of science content on YouTube, and relatively strong content communicating science, there isn’t much about science communication itself. There are videos for non-scientists about science, but not about scicomm. A Crash Course or RiskBites equivalent for science communication doesn’t exist.

The obvious question is; should that content exist? To me, the answer can only be yes.
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Writing Science Update

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This week I handed in my third piece of coursework- a group project to create a science-based magazine- which was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had with a uni assignment.

After bouncing facebook messages around the group, and continually uploading revisions and comments, we eventually got a final set of pages we were happy with. Off to print them out then- which was surprisingly difficult.

No printers in Uni could print the A4 pages properly, so we eventually found the low-tech solution of printing each page as on A3 and guillotining them down to the right size. Which would have worked well if I had any hand-eye coordination.

Apart from the myriad of issues actually getting the thing printed, I’m really happy with how the magazine turned out. Seeing it come out on proper paper, and how well the photos and colours work, it looks even better than on my laptop screen. It looks really professional, which isn’t how I’d normally describe anything I made, so I like the contrast.

 

A first-day draft of the magazine.

A first-day draft of the magazine.

Another first-day draft.

Another first-day draft.

Some ideas from the drafts made on the first day- mostly the teal, purple, and orange colour scheme, and the file-divider-style sidebars- stayed during the entire process.

However, while the first-day drafts were very sparse, the final layout contained many more ideas and tried out different styles to suit the article.

 

Mostly, it all looks varied, but still looks like it belongs to one coherent magazine. Ultimately, I’m really happy with it (despite the annoyance of finding a typo 5 minutes after hand-in) and I’m hoping we get a good mark for it.