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8 August 2014

Worried about Speaking in Public? Try Toastmasters. Really.

That’s right, Toastmasters, the outfit with the retro name that seems to promise insurance salesmen who shake your hand too hard, like that guy in the movie Groundhog Day who keeps pestering Bill Murray. “It’s Ned! NED RYERSON!”

Yes, I was dubious, too.

But then la few weeks ago I actually went to a meeting…

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28 July 2014

Want to Really Communicate Your Science to the Public? Go on a Journey and They’ll Follow

Consider these three related stories. Little Red Riding Hood sets off through the forest to Grandmother’s house. Mad Captain Ahab sails the Pacific in search of Moby Dick. You hit the road for a season of field work. Yes, Red Riding Hood, Ahab, you. All related.

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16 July 2014

Adventures in the (other) field: Mass Media Fellow Julia Rosen reports from the Los Angeles Times

“Buzz! Buzz! We want you to have time to speak with the Los Angeles Times,” a woman named Christina interjected. I was standing, clutching my notepad and recorder, in Buzz Aldrin’s office in West Los Angeles on probably the most challenging assignment of my summer (so far) as a scientist-turned-reporter for the LA Times.

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2 July 2014

Students: Submit Your Design or Video to the 2014 AGU Student T-Shirt Design and Video Contests

Do you think you have what it takes to create the next viral video or geo-style trend? Prove it by taking part in the 2014 Student T-shirt Design and Student Video contests. The winner of each contest will receive free registration to the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting. Plus, T-Shirts with the winning design will be sold at the AGU Fall Meeting, with proceeds going to the Student Travel Grant Fund. More about each contest is below.

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17 June 2014

Science Communication in the Post-expert Digital Age

In the digital age, anyone can comment, tweet, or blog. This means that expert voices are often diluted in the online conversation. In a Forum in the 17 June issue of Eos, Amy Luers, director for climate change at the Skoll Global Threats Fund and David Kroodsma, research analyst at the Skoll Global Threats Fund, describe the challenges for scientists trying to communicate in this “post-expert” age.

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9 June 2014

A maker of the first COSMOS reflects on its successor

As the final episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s series airs tonight on the National Geographic Channel, a Senior Producer and Director of the original COSMOS series, Geoff Haines-Stiles, shares his thoughts and reactions about the remake and how it compares to the original. Haines-Stiles also shares a film tribute he edited for the 1987 memorial service for Carl Sagan, creator and star of the original COSMOS.

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22 May 2014

Crafting Your Own Visuals for Science Communication: Part II

You don’t need fancy software like Adobe Illustrator to create a nice science visual. You can create a graphic in basic, accessible software, such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

The PDF below walks you through the creation process from start to finish, with the objective of creating the below landscape schematic using PowerPoint. Learn tools and insider tips along the way! (Click on the link or the image below to open the PDF.)

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7 May 2014

Crafting Your Own Visuals for Science Communication: Part I

More than two decades of studying science has taught me one very important lesson, and it is much simpler than thermodynamics, calculus, or general relativity.

I love graphics.

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10 April 2014

Mapping fantasy: The story behind the Game of Thrones geologic maps

Science fiction can be a really cool gateway for sharing science fact. Earth science is imaginative, and can draw on pop culture, like the HBO show Game of Thrones. My graduate school friend and Generation Anthropocene co-producer, Miles Traer, recently brought science fact and science fiction together over this show in a hilariously awesome and super fun project.

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7 April 2014

How climate modelers became calendar models

With some trepidation, we knocked on the first climate scientist’s door. Although we’re seasoned science writers at major research institutions, the request we were about to make was far different from our usual ones for interviews or images from field expeditions. We had decided to create a 2014 Climate Models wall calendar, using climate scientists as models, in the belief that humor can be used to deliver serious messages in a less serious, but still meaningful way.

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1 April 2014

Scientists must use more jargon for public to appreciate science, study shows

Most of the public is turned off by scientists’ overly accessible and personalized descriptions of their work, new research shows.

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17 March 2014

St. Patrick’s Science Limericks

Enjoy the greatest tradition of the holiday: science-themed limericks!

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11 March 2014

Calling for Science-Themed Limericks: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Style!

The best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to write a science-themed limerick–and then get it featured on The Plainspoken Scientist!

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24 February 2014

Illustrated IPCC Haiku?

“I didn’t deliberately set out to distill the Summary for Policymakers of the latest IPCC report into illustrated haiku. But, one weekend when I was too sick to leave the house, I found myself inspired by its ‘Headline Statements’…”

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20 February 2014

Even Stephen is hawking his science differently

CHICAGO – Last month, Stephen Hawking uploaded a two-page commentary about his new ideas about black holes to arXiv, a preprint server hosted by Cornell University Library covering research in physics, mathematics, computer science, nonlinear sciences, quantitative biology and statistics.

The paper generated buzz among journalists, who reported on Hawking’s commentary, and it also took off on social media and in the blogosphere where others in the scientific community commented on, discussed and contested Hawking’s ideas.

What Hawking did — posting his thoughts to the site rather than going through the traditional channels — and the commentary that ensued would not have been possible a decade ago, Carl Zimmer, a columnist with The New York Times, told an audience here Feb.13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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18 February 2014

Really Reaching the Public, Face-to-Face

This past summer I was able to provide a young couple with their first view of Saturn through a telescope, and afterward they told me what a profound experience this look into space had been for them. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen such an emotional response since I opened the East Point Solar Observatory, a small public observatory in Nahant, Mass., in 1995. But listening to them reminded me how lucky we scientists are to pursue a career that brings out such warm feelings in our neighbors. It also made me wonder whether the effectiveness of our national approach to public outreach might be increased by more face-to-face contact between scientists and the public.

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14 February 2014

Science Valentines!

Whether you adore Valentine’s Day or despise it, you’ve got to love a clever valentine—especially if it’s science themed. Consider these great examples, and let your heart beat faster as you contemplate the timeless beauty of science merged with romance.

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10 February 2014

Modelling Middle Earth’s climate: How I borrowed some of Tolkien’s magic for paleoclimate science

Dan Lunt, a paleoclimate modeler at the University of Bristol (UK), describes how he reached out to new audiences about climate science by modeling the climate of Tolkein’s Middle Earth.

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24 January 2014

How to Bore Everyone with Science

Ever wondered if your thrilling science is dull to others? Maybe you should start.

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25 November 2013

From Silent Spring to . . . Jaws? Using Stories to Communicate Science

Guest blogger John Calderazzo, a nonfiction writer and Colorado State University English professor, explains how storytelling isn’t just for fiction anymore: it can help you communicate your science and bring it to life.

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