Science and technology, art and literature


While academic interest in science comics has been growing in recent years, the creators of these materials remain understudied. This research aimed to explore the experiences and views of science comic creators through the lens of science communication. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 science comic creators. Interviewees felt that the visual, narrative, permanent, and approachable qualities of comics made them particularly adept at explaining science and bringing it to new audiences. Science comic creators often had complex identities, occupying an ambiguous territory between `science' and `art', but were otherwise unconcerned with strict definitions. They emphasised the importance of balance between entertaining and informing, striving to create an engaging visual narrative without overcrowding it with facts or compromising scientific accuracy. This balancing act, and how they negotiate it, sheds light on what it means to be a science communicator operating in the space between entertainment and information/education.


Marked by the diversity of initiatives linking science and art and by new presentation formats, the 15th Congress of the Network for Popularisation of Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (RedPOP) saw heated debates on science, culture, politics and society. Between 21st and 25th August, it brought together in Buenos Aires (Argentina) about 400 participants from 14 countries in order to share new visions, initiatives and research work in science communication. During the event, which included a vast cultural programme, a series of challenges were raised for the future development of the field.


Much of science communication is peer-to-peer communication in collaborative networks for innovation from the fuzzy front-end of innovation until the marketing back-end. Scientists and engineers at meetings tables talking about new developments. Or scientists and engineers in collaboration with industry and policy makers, discussing various scenarios for implementation of e.g. health care services. However, this focus on science communication 'within the action' of uncertain development of science and technology and its attached academic domains such as innovation studies, high-tech marketing and branding, is not often discussed in the science communication literature. Lacking these considerations at this micro-level communication, means we have an incomplete picture of the ways that discourses develop and are shaped by actors, particularly during the upstream phases of innovation.


A hybrid combination of art and science is used to communicate science in a primary school setting. The purpose of the work is to enhance student awareness of the science behind understanding the global climate system with a focus on the cryosphere. An experiment in communicating science is conducted by taking the collaborative experiences of a professional artist and scientist, which are then combined and projected onto an ostensibly everyday primary school classroom project. The tangible end result is a stand-alone contemporary art work that then is the focal point of community-based promotion of the science and creativity involved. A range of qualitative evaluation elements suggest that the approach does improve student engagement with the scientific approach and reduces the student's uncertainty about ``what science is''.


This study addresses an open question about science bloggers' self-perceived roles as science communicators. Previous research has investigated the roles science journalists see themselves engaging in, but such research has failed to capture the experiences of science bloggers as a broad and diverse group that is yet often very different in their practices from professional journalists. In this study, a survey of over 600 science bloggers reveals that on the broadest level, science bloggers see themselves engaging most often as explainers of science and public intellectuals. Perceived communication role depends predominantly on occupation, science communication training, blog affiliation and gender.


The representation of self and the nature of our identities often converge through technological forms. This study investigates the promotional techniques of seven companies selling DNA portraits, the objective being to uncover how these images derived from laboratory processes are viewed as valid depictions of the self and scientific knowledge. DNA portraits are revealed as the intertwining of technology and identity through celebrations of the technoself.


Science is part of our everyday live; so is art. Some art installations that link the two require the active presence of the spectator. Thereby they help to raise the awareness, promote understanding, and generate an emotional response from the public. This project rests on the public participation model that seeks to explore the connection between art installations and science communication through experiential learning. In order to test the effectiveness of an art installation communicating science two groups were contrasted. The first was exposed to a list of scientific facts; the second participated in the creation of an art installation. The results of this research suggest that art installations do promote long-term fact retention. Therefore, the use of art installations can be considered an interesting method of conveying science in an attractive, reliable, and memorable way.


Comprehension of the nature and practice of science and its social context are important aspects of communicating and learning science. However there is still very little understanding amongt the non-scientific community of the need for debate in driving scientific knowledge forward and the role of critical scrutiny in quality control. Peer review is an essential part of this process. We initiated and developed a pilot project to provide an opportunity for students to explore the idea that science is a dynamic process rather than a static body of facts. Students from two different schools experienced the process of peer-review by producing and reviewing comics related to the science done at Rothamsted Research. As authors, students showed a large degree of creativity and understanding of the science while as referees they showed good critical skills. Students had at first hand an insight into how science works.


A survey we carried out in upper secondary schools showed that the majority of the students consider physics as an important resource, yet as essentially connected to technology in strict terms, and not contributing “culture”, being too difficult a subject. Its appreciation tends to fade as their education progresses through the grades. The search for physics communication methods to increase interest and motivation among students prompted the Department of Physics at the University of Milan to establish the Laboratory of ScienzATeatro (SAT) in 2004. Up to May 2010, SAT staged three shows and one lesson-show having physics as a main theme, for students attending any grades at school. Good indicators of the efficacy of those shows are: the number of repeats (256 of them up to May 2010), the reputation of the theatres in which they were performed, and the results of two surveys on the achievement of the goals, which saw the participation of over 50 classes each.


Comics are a popular art form especially among children and as such provide a potential medium for science education and communication. In an attempt to present science comics in a museum exhibit I found many science themed comics and graphic books. Here I attempt to provide an overview of already available comics that communicate science, the genre of ‘science comics’. I also provide a quick literature review for evidence that comics can indeed be efficiently used for promoting scientific literacy via education and communication. I address the issue of lack of studies about science comics and their readers and suggest some possible reasons for this as well as some questions that could be addressed in future studies on the effect these comics may have on science communication.


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