‘Eat my Shorts’ is a collaboration between two scientists, an artist and a scientific film maker. Our project combines colourful, engaging stop-motion animation with public engagement and science communication practices to create short videos which will transform children into science communicators.
“Knowledge is a big subject. Ignorance is bigger. And it is more interesting.” Stuart Firestein
In the traditional model of science communication, scientists are seen as authority figures imparting knowledge to an audience seen as lacking in understanding (the Deficit Model, see also Turbo Encabulator). We want to challenge this model and to instead draw parallels with toddlers who maddeningly keep asking “why?” as soon as they get the answer to a question. The use of humour will be encouraged and engage audiences beyond the children participating in the activity.
- Familiar and found objects
A no less important aspect is the use of familiar and found objects to tell science stories. Our animation will employ ‘every-day’ items that any child, living anywhere, will be able to instantly recognise and get their hands on. We hope to bring seemingly remote environments closer to home.
The topic suggested for this pilot is the story about Brunel scientists finding microplastics in mussels, leading a BBC journalist to comment that one could eat bits of someone else’s underwear when eating mussels (here).
We will introduce the students to a scientific news story, and then help them to produce a short stop-motion film to re-tell the story in their own words and understanding.
- The scientists in the team watching the students’ film will be able to assess how scientific information was understood by the children, and how well the scientists have communicated the science story.
- We will record the workshop producing a short ‘making of’ film to share what we have learnt with other scientists.
- The students’ animation(s) will be shared with their families and friends, disseminating the scientific information to a much wider audience in an engaging and easy to understand format.
The schools, students and teachers involved will also be invited to a launch event of their film at Brunel University.