The Steam Summer School, a 10-day intensive science communication school will be held in Malta in July.
Originally the brainchild of Think editor Edward Duca, the activity has grown into an annual project supported by the EU’s Erasmusplus programme now in its third year. It is conducted by international pool of talented journalists, scholars, performers and experts in science communication from the University of Malta, the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, Science View, Haaga-Helia University, Finland, the University of Edinburgh, UK, and Rhein-Waal University, Germany, which hosted the first edition of the school.
Science communication seeks to create excitement, enjoyment, awareness, and understanding of science among a wide range of audiences. The yearly Science in the City activity held in Valletta is a good example of effective science communication. Attended by people young and old alike, it shows how interesting and fun science can be.
With science shows, debates, music, dance, theatre and live experiments, it makes science accessible to everyone. Science communication shows that cutting-edge research does not have to be hidden in a lab, unintelligible to everyone except people dressed in lab coats. It is for everyone to understand and enjoy.
Sarah Galea attended the first year of Steam summer school. Now one of Esplora Interactive Science Centre’s presenters, she learnt a wealth of skills from the school that she still uses in her career.
“I found out about Steam Summer School because I was searching for things about science communication and an advert on Facebook showed up.” Having just started working as a science communicator, she was keen to learn as much as she could about her new job. “For me it is a dream job where I get to share the excitement of learning new things and trying out experiments with kids and adults of all ages.”
But she knew this was just one of many areas of science communication, and she wanted to find out more. She jumped at the chance to learn from experts from around the world at the Steam Summer School.
If you want to delve into how powerful different styles of science communication can be to instigate change, go for it
Working with an international community of people who all wanted to engage people with science was a life-changing experience. Even two years later, Galea is still motivated by it. “The connections I made with like-minded individuals keep me motivated and excited to keep learning and improving on my science communications skills.
“Everything I learned there about performance I still carry with me today, and every now and then I go back on things I got to know about through the summer school to learn more.”
The lessons on performance were invaluable for her job as an Esplora presenter. They improved her confidence and helped her better engage with the audience. It not only made it more fun for her, it also makes it more enjoyable for visitors to the centre.
Among the things she learnt was how to communicate creatively in a dance or theatre performance a topic as complicated as gravitational waves. It was an eye-opener as to just how creative communication can be.
Learning about the diverse ways that can be used to communicate science is something Galea reflects upon daily in her job. The Steam school not only teaches a range of creative ways to communicate, but also how to evaluate an event to see if it was useful and enjoyable for the audience.
The wealth of experience the speakers had to offer was one of the most valuable things she took away from the school. “The speakers at the summer school are people I still look up to today for taking the time to share with us so much of their experiences and sharing with us best practices.”
Paid places for this summer’s edition of the school are still available. Would Galea recommend it?
“For the experience and people alone it was more than worth the money. It gave me so many things to think about that I wish to do in the near future. If you want to know more about all things related to science communication, if you want to delve into how powerful different styles of science communication can be to instigate change, go for it. Even if you just want to have an energising, invigorating experience that you feel you can learn from and possibly contribute to, go for it,” she said.
Esplora Interactive Science Centre in Kalkara is open from Tuesday to Sunday. For more information, visit www.espolra.org.mt.
How to apply
The Steam Summer School runs from July 2 to 11 in Malta. Early bird fees are available until May 1. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.steamsummerschool.eu.
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