In this edition

Quote of the month

“The best things in life aren’t things.”

— Art Buchwald


Welcome to our December 2014 newsletter: Favourite sci-comm videos and online tools

In this our final newsletter for 2014, our colleagues and friends from around the world share some of their favourite science communication videos, radio broadcasts, online tools and other ‘stocking fillers’.

We hope you can find time to indulge in one or two of them over the festive season, which is already upon us.

Merry Christmas, happy new year and thanks for reading.

And by the way, we’d love your feedback via Facebook, Twitter or email us.

Regards from the @EconnectTeam:

How scientists can reconnect with the public

By Brian Trench

President – International Network for the Public Communication of Science and Technology

Fergus McAuliffe, a PhD student in environmental science, was thrust into the spotlight of science communication when he won the international FameLab competition in 2013.

In his TEDx Dublin talk, Sharing science through story (15 min), Fergus uses self-deprecating humour to tell the story of how scientists lost their connection with the public, how they can get it back, and how a frozen frog won him the FameLab prize.


Dance your research

By Michelle Riedlinger

Communication Department, University of the Fraser Valley, Canada

I love this talk: Dance vs. powerpoint: a modest proposal (11 min 17 sec).

Not only because I want to see students dance their research but because John Bohannon does such a good job of showing that there are many useful and powerful visual aids to choose from for communicating science.

I show this video to all my science and communication classes. While no-one has danced their research yet, I’m seeing progress—students have brought in baby animals, knitted models and food samples. One student played the flute.


Reimagining leadership: the role of media

By Colleen Foelz

Freelance science editor, Edenink, Australia

What is the influence of the media on leadership styles and practices in Australia?

Some people claim that the national media are setting the political agenda.

Others say that their influence is declining as people move to digital media for their news—or abandon interest in politics altogether.

So what’s needed for the media to play a renewed role in advancing leadership for the greater good in Australia?

Reimagining leadership: The role of media is an audio broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program.

10 best science channels on YouTube

By Toss Gascoigne

Director of Toss Gascoigne & Associates, Australia

Chemistry teacher James Kennedy has pulled together his 10 Best Science Channels on YouTube:

  1. Veritasium blows your mind by breaking misconceptions
  2. Periodic Videos: experiments you’d love to do but can’t.
  3. SciShow blasts fun facts
  4. Numberphile makes you LOVE mathematics.
  5. AsapSCIENCE: fascinating hand-drawn mini-tutorials.
  6. MinutePhysics: fascinating mini physics tutorials.
  7. Vsauce investigates fascinating questions.
  8. SmarterEveryDay explains cat-flipping, and more.
  9. Science Channel gives you the latest science news.
  10. NASA gives you real-life science inspiration.

Getting your daily dose of science communication

By Bruce Lewenstein

Chair, Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University, USA

I don’t have a favourite video, radio show or podcast.

What I have is a favourite internet aggregator—The #SciComm Daily, produced by Thilina Heenatigala, an astronomy educator in Sri Lanka.

Each day, The #SciComm Daily gives me links to new examples to use in class, and early notice of new publications—both practical guides and academic analysis—from around the world.

I enjoy it because it captures the vibrancy of our field.

Practical guides and bite-sized videos

By Marina Joubert 

Director, Southern Science, and researcher/lecturer at Stellenbosch University, South Africa 

My favourites:

  1. I find the practical science communication guides on SciDev.Net really useful as training aids for science communication courses for scientists and journalists.
  2. On YouTube I enjoy AsapSCIENCE for short (and fun) examples of how science can be communicated.
  3. And check out Bite Sci-zed for ‘easily digestible science’ on YouTube. Here’s a taster: Dominant vs. recessive allelles (or, “Did she have an affair?”)(3 min 25 sec).


Know your causality from your correlation

By Alison Binney

Do ice-creams really cause people to drown?

Do married men live long than single men?

Ionica Smeets, a mathematician and science journalist from the Netherlands, uses simple examples in her TEDxDelft talk, The danger of mixing up causality and correlation (5 min 57 sec).

Brain food – fast, focused and fun

By Robbie Mitchell 

Feeling hungry is as much about our memory as our stomach, according to Vanessa Hill in Food nostalgia. Fascinated?

Vanessa is the creator, writer and host of BrainCraft, a YouTube series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behaviour.

In the past year, she has produced more than 30 videos answering questions such as:



Why I like BrainCraft videos:

  1. They are 3 minutes long. This is a magic number for YouTube videos as most of us start to get itchy mouse-fingers around this time as our attention decreases.
  2. Each video seeks to answer one question. A focused theme helps me, the viewer, focus and I am more likely to take away the key message.
  3. They are fun. Vanessa uses a combination of cut-out animation and video of herself.
  4. They are interesting and I can relate to the topics.


Communicating risk using animation

By Jenni Metcalfe

Why talking about risk is about more than just the evidence (2 min 50 sec) is a quirky and entertaining animation about communicating scientific risk.

I used it this year when teaching risk and crisis communication at Germany’s Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, and during a communication master class I ran in South Africa.