Science Communications

Science Communications

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Science Communications

Communicating science couldn't be more important – and it's still hard to do well. Learn from the best!

The need is greater than ever to engage mainstream audiences in science. Goodness knows, the science community has been aware of this for decades. Why is it so hard to do?

Whether you're a scientist or a communicator, a Spark program will help you engage new audiences through proven processes. We are as empirical about communications as we are about science – with a huge dose of creativity added to the mix.

Spark science communications program may be eligible as a professional development activity.

Courses and fellowships will be available at the science centre throughout the year, and every few years, the flagship two-week residency in Banff will also be staged. Space is limited to 20 participants. Dates will be announced at a later time.

BUILT ON THE BEST OF BANFF

The Spark science communications program is built on nearly 15 years of experience with the renowned Banff Science Communications Program.

Course Locations

Spark's science communications programs are offered in three locations:

- Spark, the Calgary Science Centre

- Your location, for custom courses

- Banff, for the biennial flagship residency program

Fees

Courses are $500 per person, per day. Some courses are subsidized by sponsors or donors of high-quality science communications training.

Funding

Scholarships are available for some programs.

Applicants are encouraged to look for funding available from their own employers, institution and other sources, such as:

Canadian Museums Association Bursaries

Canada-Alberta (or other Province) Job Grants

Examples of Course Sessions

Uber Pitch

Blaise Pascal famously said, "I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead.” In this session, participants prepare a one-minute (in other words, short!) “uber pitch” and then edit/practice in groups of three before presenting it to the toughest audience in the world – a camera!

Personalizing the Impersonal

Science communication often focuses primarily on getting the science right. At its best it is powerful storytelling, with all of the profound and personal connections that make for great stories. This session encourages participants to ask why science matters to them, or, for that matter, to anyone else? Participants reveal something about themselves by personalizing their communication style.

Audience-Focused Communications

This is the linchpin of all Banff Science Communications programs. Audience first. Is anyone listening? If so, what are they feeling and thinking? People are not science illiterate vessels waiting to be filled up with the correct facts. We build on respect for the audience and what it means to be as empirical about understanding audiences as we are about science itself.

Improv

Many science writers are asked to speak publicly and take their work to the stage. Here’s your chance to prepare! Except there is no need to prepare – it’s improv night. Inhibitions are kindly asked to leave the room.

“I feel inspired and like my eyes have been opened to opportunities I didn't realize were out there.”

Former Participant of the Banff Science Communications Program

“This program has been two of the best weeks of my life. Not only has it changed how I will communication science and opened me up to many more experiences, it has also changed my everyday life. I cannot speak highly enough of this program.”

Former Participant of the Banff Science Communications Program

“It has been an incredible experience. I have a much better sense of what my strengths are as a communicator of science.”

Former Participant of the Banff Science Communications Program

“I loved the program. Not to be hyperbolic but I have been singing praises since I got back. It was very creative and I left with lots to think about.”

Former Participant of the Banff Science Communications Program

“My Sci Comm experience is a mixture of awe-inspiring views of the mountains, combined with adrenaline-pulsing improvisational performance challenges. Back in my office now, I feel like the weekend-long program was transformational in some way that I don't believe has sunk in quite yet.”

Former Participant of the Banff Science Communications Program

Previous Faculty Members

  • Jay Ingram, science writer and broadcaster, member of the Order of Canada
  • John Rennie, deputy editor of Quanta, former editor-in-chief, Scientific American
  • Nadia Drake, reporter, National Geographic
  • Thomas Hayden, Stanford journalism prof, co-editor of the Science Writer's Handbook
  • Christie Nicholson, guest lecturer, Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science
  • Henry Kowalski, former Executive Producer, Discovery Channel Canada
  • Trevor Day, musician, improv coach and physiology prof, Mount Royal University
  • Rose Eveleth, producer of 30 for 30 Podcasts, ESPN
  • Maggie Koerth-Baker, senior science editor, FiveThirtyEight
  • Niki Wilson, science communicator, Jasper Dark Sky host
  • Dennis Cahill, artistic director, Loose Moose Theatre
  • Nancy Baron, director of science outreach, COMPASS
  • Rob Davidson, journalist, TV guy, writer and producer 
  • Mary Anne Moser, founding director of the Banff Science Communications Program, and CEO at Spark

Science Communications Fellowships

Spark will be offering six-month fellowships in science communications! Join the mailing list for news and launch date.

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