Image modified from Moonscape by Alvaro Folhas (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)
There is no doubt that 2016 was packed full of exciting, insightful and informative blog posts. An impressive 360 posts were published across the EGU’s official blog, GeoLog, as well as the network and division blogs!
In December, to celebrate the excellent display of science writing across the network and division blogs, we launched the EGU Blogs competition. From a list of posts selected by our blog editors, we invited you, the EGU Blogs readers, to vote for your favourite post of 2016. After a little over three weeks of voting, the winners are finally in!
Without further ado, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to the Cryosphere Blog, who take this year’s crown, with a 58% share of the votes, for their post following the journey of a snowflake! From the water vapour in a cloud to the snowman in your garden, find out what leads to the complex structure you can see on in the image below!
Snowflakes viewed with a low temperature scanning electron microscope (SEM). [ Image Credit : Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia]
All the posts entered into the competition are worthy of a read too, so head over to the poll and click on the post titles to learn about a variety of topics: from the fate of Fukushima Iodine-129 in rain and groundwater, to exploring whether letters of recommendation are the key to the leaky pipeline in academia and how common soft sediment structures like slumps and flames form.
If the start of a new year, with its inevitable resolutions, along with the range and breadth of posts across the EGU Blogs have inspired you to try your hand at a little science writing then remember all the EGU Blogs welcome (and encourage!) guest posts. Indeed, it is the variety of guest posts, in addition to regular features, which makes the blogs a great read! If you would like to contribute to any of the network, divison blogs or GeoLog, please send a short paragraph detailing your idea to the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts at email@example.com.
Meet Beatriz, who's short film was voted the winning entry of the 2016 Communicate Your Science Video Competition. Credit: Jordi Cortés.
If you’ve not heard about ourCommunicate Your Science Video Competitionbefore itgives early career scientists the chance to produce a video up-to-three-minutes long to share their research with the general public. The winning entry receives a free registration to the General Assembly the following year.
Before we get started, could you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little more about your research?
I am a seismologist mainly studying the Earth structure. I did my PhD on Mexico and its vicinity using a novel approach developed in the last decade. Before, seismologists used to study earthquake signals to infer the inner structure, but now we can also study seismic ambient noise, which is everything on a seismic record… except the earthquake signals! This means we now analyse what used to be thrown away, once considered useless. In this sense, it is like recycling. This has revolutionised the field and opened multiple applications, not only for imaging the Earth interior, but also for monitoring landslides, volcanoes or climate change effects.
Some of our readers may yet not be familiar with the competition, can you tell us a little more about it and what made you decide to take part in the competition?
Yes, the EGU video competition consists on explaining your research to a general audience through a three minute video. Once ready, you submit your video to EGU and disseminate it as much as possible to get people to vote for it . I decided to take part because I was fascinated with the bunch of applications developed from seismic ambient noise and aware of the importance of communicating science to society. This cocktail of thoughts inspired me to create the video.
Watch Beatriz’s winning film, Subtle Whisper of the Earth
Had you filmed any science videos prior to producing ‘Subtle Whisper of the Earth’?
No, never. Only as a teenager I recorded some short, home-made videos for outdoor activities, but nothing related with science. However, in the production of Shubtle Whisper of the Earth I was helped by two professionals: Jordi Cortés, the journalist in charge of the communication at the Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, ICTJA-CSIC, who filmed and edited the video, and Daniel García (@rocambloguesco), an Earth Sciences communicator who helped me with the script.
What inspired you to make a film about your research and submit the entry to the competition?
Since I finished my PhD I was thinking about making a documentary to show how seismic ambient noise was such a big evolution for seismology. Indeed, I already had some script ideas bubbling in my mind. Then, I found out about the competition through the recently created communication department of my center and, after thinking about it I went for it. I thought it [the video competition} was a great opportunity to make my ideas real.
We can’t go into too much detail here, but how did you go about collecting the footage and turning it into a film?
First, I adapted my original ideas to the length of the video competition specifications. After several iterations, I got the main idea. In parallel, I thought on the story: I needed something common to people, like recycling. I made a script, then Daniel helped me to simplify it from the research realm to society, and I organised it in sequences, duration and film resources. All these steps were the most time-consuming part. Jordi and I organized the “field work” dividing the filming on indoor and outdoor. Since we organized the sequence planning in advance, it took us only one morning shooting indoors and one afternoon outdoors. Jordi’s experience behind the camera and in production helped a lot to get the final video, but we only used user-level material and software for producing and editing.
What’s your top tip for aspiring science filmmakers?
Have a clear idea of the message you want to communicate. Also, you need a story to catch the attention of the audience. Once you have the idea and the story, the next step, how to visually express them, comes easily.
Beatriz preparing materials to be used in the making of her film. Credit: JordiCortés
Which part of the filming process did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the whole process, but especially two parts: first, the beginning of the creative process, thinking what, why, and how I wanted to communicate the story, imagining the screenshots in my mind. And second, shooting with Jordi was really fun, I enjoyed it a lot, it was like a game.
Would you recommend filmmaking as a way for scientist to reach out to a broad audience?
Sure! When I started I did not think that the video would reach as many people as it did. I was really happy when some friends told me ‘now we know what you do’. Even some colleagues told me that now they understood pretty well what we get from the seismic ambient noise. It is worth it. A short video is a good way to reach a broad audience globally. Being short, specific and visual are good ingredients to grab attention.
Would you recommend others taking part in the Communicate your Science Video Competition?
Yes, of course. It is an enjoyable exercise to communicate your research. The hardest part of the competition is the self-promotion to get votes, but that’s a different story 😉
Has this interview inspired you to go forth and produce a science video? The Communicate Your Science Video Competition is currently open for submissions.
If you are pre-registered to attend the General Assembly in April, go ahead and produce a video with scenes of you out in the field, or at the lab bench showing how to work out water chemistry; entries can also include cartoons, animations (including stop motion), or music videos, – you name it! To submit your video simply email it to Laura Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 26 February 2017.
For more information about the competition take a look at this blog post. For inspiration, why not take a look at the finalist videos from the 2015 and 2016 editions? For more tips and tricks on how to make a video to communicate your research read an interview with vlogger extraordinaire Simon Clark. We also spoke to Zakaria Ghazoui, winner of the 2015 video competition to as his thoughts on how to make a great video.
To celebrate the excellent display of science writing across the network and division blogs, we are launching the EGU Blogs competition.
From now until Monday 16th January, we invite you, the EGU Blogs readers, to vote for your favourite post of 2016. Take a look at the poll below, click on each post to read it in full, and cast your vote for the one you think deserves the accolade of best post of 2016. The post with the most votes by will be crowned the winner.
New in 2016
Not only have the blogs seen some great writing throughout the year, they’ve also continued to keep readers up to date with news and information relevant to each of our scientific divisions.
Are you a budding science writer, or want to try your hand at science communication? All the EGU Blogs, from GeoLog (the official EGU blog), through to the network and division blogs, welcome guest contributions from scientists, students and professionals in the Earth, planetary and space sciences.
It couldn’t be easier to get involved. Decide what you’d like to write about, find the blog that is the best fit for your post and contact the blog editor – you can find all editor details on the individual blog pages. If in doubt, you can submit your idea for a post via the Submit a Post page on GeoLog, or email the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts, who can help with initial enquiries and introduce you to individual blog editors.
Don’t forget to a look at the blog pages for a flavour of the content you can expect from the new, and existing, blogs in 2017. The blogs are also a great place to learn about new opportunities, exciting fields of research and keep up to date with news relating to the upcoming 2017 General Assembly.
Editor’s note on the EGU Best Blog Post of 2016 Competition: The winning post will be that with the most votes on 15th January 2017. The winner will be announced on GeoLog shortly after voting closes. The winning post will take home an EGU goodie bag, as well as a book of the winners choice from the EGU library (there are up to 4 goodie bags and books available per blog. These are available for the blog editor(s) – where the winning post belongs to a multi-editor blog, and for the blog post author – where the author is a regular contributor or guest author and not the blog editor). In addition, a banner announcing the blog as the winner of the competition will be displayed on the blog’s landing page throughout 2017.
With the rise of electronic games – those played on computers, consoles and even on mobile phones – you’d be forgiven for thinking the humble board game would be slowly making its way into the history books.
While the aim of many games is simply to entertain, countless others exploit the pleasure we derive from playing them to educate the player at the same time. Board (and electronic) games are valuable tools when it comes to disseminating research findings and teaching players about modern day circumstances.
Many facets of the geosciences, where reaching out to the public is crucial – raising awareness about natural hazards, climate change, for instance – lend themselves nicely to being developed into outreach projects which involve some sort of game. Whether you are looking for a way to teach your students in the classroom about the threat of rising sea levels, or increasing awareness about volcanic eruptions within a local community, you might find an unlikely ally in the modest board game.
We’ve put together a list of some (geo)educational games which you might consider using/playing in the future (the target age groups are varied, click links to the actual games for details). This list is by no means exhaustive! We welcome all readers to recommend games we might have missed and review the ones we link too; do share your thoughts in the comments section.
Climate related games
CO2: the goal is to stop the increase of pollution, while meeting the rising demand for sustainable energy
Climate Challenge: an online game from the BBC, where you are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office
Ice Flows: aimed at school-aged children, this app based game hopes to raise awareness about the current scientific understanding about how ice flows and that ice sheets are dynamic environments. Because the game has a fun element to it too, the scientists behind it have developed a webpage which shines a light on the various science and fictional elements in the game
Screen shot from Ice Flows (University of Exeter 2016/ Anne Le Brocq/Inhouse Visuals)
Volcanoes Top Trumps: A card game where players are dealt a number of volcanoes, before pitting them against an opponent – choosing a numerical stat about their volcano that they think will win. You can also play an online version if you prefer.
Rock-on: a card game which teaches players about the rock cycle and rock types
Setup of Hazagora- will you survive the next disaster?: (a) board game; (b) character cards with from left to right: the mayor, the ﬁsherman, the lumberjack, the farmer and the tour guide; (c) resource cards: bread, water and bricks; (d) resource dice; (e) water well and food market; (f) hut (one chip with one family), house (two chips with two families), and road; (g) cost information card for building new streets, huts, and houses and buying protection cards. Taken from Mossoux, S., et al. (2016).
The UN’s World Water Day Games: a great selection of hydrology-related games (some online, some not), from those which help understand water crisis through to one which explores the effects of unexpected droughts and floods, to games which mimic the management of a river catchment
Irrigania: web-based, multi-player game, about water resource sharing. The paper linked too contains references to a number of other hydrology games too
Has the above list inspired you to come up with an idea for a game related to your research? Why not apply for one of our Public Engagement Grants? They award €1000 to develop a project which raises awareness of geosciences outside the scientific community – ripe for a game related idea!
By Laura Roberts, EGU Communications Officer
Please note that while I researched all the games included in this list I cannot, nor can the EGU, guarantee the scientific accuracy of the games. Mention in this list doesn’t not mean I, or the EGU, endorse the games.