1. K-State home
  2. »Science Communication Initiative
  3. »Conference
  4. »Event descriptions

Science Communication Initiative

Event descriptions

SciComm 2019 is packed with opportunities to learn and practice science communication skills — and even have some fun!

Registration for all events and the conference as a whole is open. Note: When you arrive at the conference, please sign in at Rathbone Hall before attending workshops or other events. 

Pre-conference workshops

Four workshops will be offered on Friday afternoon before the official start of the conference. Workshops are free for conference participants, but registration is required as seats are limited. 

  • Leading an effective outdoor experience: Come to the Konza Prairie Biological Station and join Director of Education Jill Haukos on a hike of the beautiful Butterfly Hill trail. Along the way, you will get advice on how to effectively lead an outdoor experience, whether it is a hike or a specific activity. Activities will focus on the special considerations that are particular to an outdoor venue. Wear clothing and footwear suitable for an easy hike. 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., including travel time; transportation is included. 

  • Visual Thinking Strategies for Science: Science communication increasingly employs visual and multimedia tools. The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind as researchers seek new, visual ways to convey complex relationships in their data and among large data sets. Multimedia technology tools allow scientists to view their findings in new visual formats, whether as extreme magnifications or as digital models. Though we “read” pictures, graphs, and diagrams every day, too little attention has been given to improving our ability to use visual evidence and think critically about interpretations. This workshop will introduce participants to Visual Thinking Strategies or VTS. Based on research into aesthetic development in the arena of the arts, it has become a valuable tool in scientific fields as well. Learn the basics of VTS through participatory viewing and discussion, and hone your skill at maximizing brainstorming sessions in the field, the lab, or the classroom through practice of active listening and precise but flexible uses of language. This workshop will be led by Linda Duke, director of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, and will meet at the Beach Museum of Art on the southeast corner of the Kansas State University campus from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

  • How to Science on Tap: Science on Tap events have become popular across the nation, and they serve as a wonderful template for engaging with adult, non-expert audiences in different contexts. This workshop focuses on storytelling exercises, visual communication, and audience engagement strategies that will allow you to easily tweak your science story to audiences with different backgrounds and interests. This workshop will be led by Jared Bixby, curator of education at Sunset Zoo, and Michi Tobler, associate professor of biology at Kansas State University, and will meet in 324 Ackert Hall from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

  • Improv and storytelling: Improvisation and storytelling are the perfect avenues for hands-on experiential learning that will strengthen your communication skills and awaken your spontaneous creative spirit. Join LaVonne Canfield, MA, RDT, CCFP in the Purple Masque Theatre from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. to explore how simple creative drama games can help you become a clearer, more empathetic proble- solver and enrich your capacity to communicate and connect. No previous experience needed. Fun provided. Bring laughter.

Showcasing research through film and lightning talks

Friday evening will provide an opportunity to showcase exciting stories about science and science communication in short film and lightning talk formats. Films and talks must be less than 5 minutes long, targeted at non-expert audiences, and attempt to provide information in a new and exciting way. The use of PowerPoint (maximally 5 slides) as visual aids for Lightning Talks is permitted but not required. 

When you register, you'll be asked to provide a title and an abstract in the form of a tweet (280 characters maximum; please include #SciComm2019). Films (in MP4 format) and PowerPoint slides (16:9 format) must be submitted by March 20 using a Dropbox link. Information will be provided via email. 

Contributions will be judged by a panel of judges, who will conduct a panel discussion about techniques used in the presentations once the talks are complete. Judge’s choice and audience’s choice awards will be presented at the end of the evening.

Contributed talks

On both Saturday and Sunday morning, there will be oral presentations by conference attendees. We invite presentations that broadly pertain to science communication to diverse audiences, including presentation related to K-12 education, discipline-based education research, science in media and social media, broader impacts, informal STEM education, science communication research, and approaches to science communication education for scientists. Contributed talks will be 15 minutes long.  

When you register, you will be asked to provide a title, an abstract, and a tweet describing your talk (280 characters maximum; please include #SciComm2019).

Community Science Festival at Sunset Zoo

Science at Sunset Zoo will be an opportunity for scientists to implement, and potentially evaluate, their informal science activities for the public. Scientists will be positioned at tables (~6 by 3’) throughout the zoo, where they will engage visitors in science-focused learning through engaging, hands on activities or demonstrations. This is a unique opportunity for scientists (e.g. PIs of National Science Foundation grants with Broader Impacts) to bring their science communication materials to a large public audience. Importantly, it is also an opportunity for scientists at various career stages who are wanting to develop informal science activities to engage in activities developed by others and to talk with other scientists about their experiences developing informal science learning programs.

When you register, you will be asked to provide a title, a brief description of your activity in the form of a tweet (280 characters maximum), and to provide any information about special needs to make your activity possible.

Communicating Science through ART(ifacts)

Poster sessions are a fixture of scientific conferences, because they facilitate conversation. Posters usually provide a visual aid to dive deep into the specific topic the presenter is studying. Since SciComm 2019 will not be attended only by researchers, we want to break the scientists’ habit to show up with graphs and statistics. Communicating Science through ART(ifacts) is aimed at sparking conversations about science through art displays and artifacts that represent your research. This might be a photograph or an audio recording you took during fieldwork, a painting inspired by your work, a specimen that you collected, or an unusual piece of equipment that you might use frequently.

When you register, you will be asked to provide a title, a brief description of your activity in the form of a tweet (280 characters maximum), and to provide any information about special needs to make your activity possible.

Contributions will be judged by a panel of judges. Judge’s choice and audience choice awards will be presented at the evening event.

Open Mic Night: Explain it Like I'm 5

Saturday night we will gather at O'Malley's Alley to socialize. To practice our improv skills and talk about science in a not-so-serious way, we will have an Open Mic Night. Explain your research or your passion or challenges in science communication a way that a 5-year-old can understand it. No registration is needed, but we hope all of you will line up. If you need any inspiration, check https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/

Contributions will be judged by a panel of judges. Judge’s choice and audience choice awards will be presented at the end of the evening.