Science and technology, art and literature

31/10/2022

This paper describes a school intervention focused on visual art and solar physics using science capital and STEAM methodologies to develop STEM engagement activities. Data from 40 children (aged 8–11) in two primary schools in the North East of England are presented, using pre- and post-intervention surveys which contained free-response and likert-scale questions. The paper presents a novel, and transferable, method of evaluating children’s drawings using online comparative judgement marking software, particularly suited to those without a background in qualitative research. Using comparative judgement this paper shows that the intervention led to a moderate increase in girls’ knowledge of solar physics.

24/10/2022

Although Science Art (“SciArt”) is increasingly used in science communication as a way to make content more engaging or accessible, little is known about why artists pursue this practice or what they hope to achieve through their work. This project addresses these questions through a thematic analysis of interviews with 131 practicing science artists. We identify a diversity of goals for creating SciArt, only some of which involve communicating science.

03/10/2022

‘Science Communication Through Poetry’, by Sam Illingworth offers a practical guide for the aspiring science communication poet or those interested in working with poetry as a research tool or public engagement method.

31/01/2022

The Story Collider applies the principles of narrative transportation to produce events that use first-person, personal stories about science to activate audience emotion, empathy, and identities. This study sought to systematically explore underlying patterns in the subjective experience of these live shows. This study combined a research framework from the performing arts with Q methodology, a method designed to capture and quantify subjectivity of personal meaning. This revealed four profiles, each representing a distinct way that one can internalize the value of science storytelling. Results highlight an opportunity within programs that operate at the nexus of science communication and the arts.

02/08/2021

In an increasingly rich and abundant context of publications on science and theatre, Simon Parry's “Science in performance: theatre and the politics of engagement” stands out for its multidisciplinary perspective on the topic, focusing on central issues in the field of science communication. Based on a detailed and dense analysis of a selection of theatre performances about science, Parry supports theatre as a space for negotiation and co-creation of knowledge.

27/04/2021

In this essay, we explore what happens when science meets comic art and how such meeting offers an opportunity to rethink science communication. We base our discussion on our own experience, as research scholars, of engaging in a collaboration with a comic artist. Three key reflections are developed: how comic art may help to (1) conceptualize ideas in an early research phase, (2) clarify the main argument by making the (un)written word visible; and (3) communicate science with an open end. These aspects contribute to an increased understanding of science communication in both research and society.

08/03/2021

This study investigated the potential for comics to promote skepticism about the paranormal. Participants rated their interest in comics, read a skeptical account of alleged paranormal phenomena in one of three mediums (text, comic, and comic containing an interactive magic trick), and then rated their engagement, skepticism and recall. The text was rated as more interesting and entertaining than the comics, and participants' prior interest in comics positively correlated with engagement and shift in skepticism. This suggests that for certain cohorts, comics may be an effective way to promote engagement and attitude change. The implications for future work are considered.

09/02/2021

Science and theatre have a long history of interactions, which usually promote collaborations between artists and scientists. Focussing on the theatre performed in the context of science communication, this article aims to analyse the collaboration between artists and scientists in the production of the play ‘Life of Galileo’, by Bertolt Brecht, at the Museu da Vida. Based on the interviews with 12 people involved in the production, we identified a strong involvement in the project, which provided a rich exchange and knowledge acquisition, in addition to raising relevant questions about the theatre performed in the specific context of science communication.

18/01/2021

This article employs quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine images of neurobiology published in a science news database, sampled across a two-year interval. Upon comparing the images to article headlines, the author argues that identifiable digital effects — such as blobs of bright colour, sparks of light, superimposed lines — correlate with articles reporting on new observations of neuronal action. A qualitative semiotic analysis of characteristic examples forwards the idea of a “blurry image”, denoting how audiences must cognitively blur the line between objectivity and subjectivity, between the “real” and the enhanced performative action evident in digital images tingling with vibrant life. The conclusion suggests that digital image making can increase aesthetic pleasability even as it serves as a partner in the cognitive task and, accordingly, the argumentation of the neuroscientist. Future research can investigate whether or not digital overlays and image features identified as obvious and attractive impact assessments of scientific research or alter evaluations of objectivity.

14/12/2020

This study explores how South African newspaper cartoonists portrayed the novel coronavirus during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We show how these cartoons respond to the socio-economic and cultural contexts in the country. Our analysis of how cartoonists represent the novel coronavirus explain how they create meaning (and may influence public sentiments) using colour, morphological characteristics and anthropomorphism as visual rhetorical tools. From a total population of 497 COVID-19-related cartoons published in 15 print and online newspapers from 1 January to 31 May 2020, almost a quarter (24%; n=120) included an illustration of the coronavirus. Viruses were typically coloured green or red and attributed with human characteristics (most often evil-looking facial expressions) and with exaggerated, spikey stalks surrounding the virus body. Anthropomorphism was present in more than half of the 120 cartoons where the virus was illustrated (58%; n=70), while fear was the dominant emotional tone of the cartoons. Based on our analysis, we argue that editorial cartoons provide a useful source to help us understand the broader discursive context within which public communication of science operates during a pandemic.

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