As scientists we strive to choose our words carefully and say information correctly. We make sure we have all of our facts correct and we have cited all of the appropriate references. This is very important, especially when you write for a wide range of audiences—clinicians, scientists, healthcare professionals, middle and high school students and the general public. Sometimes getting our information “just right” is constraining and does not allow us to open our minds and think differently.
This year I tried something new-Improv! I had been exposed to Improv briefly at the Communicating Science to the Public workshop a few years ago, and wanted to learn more. This was my year to start, and start I did—with classes at Improv Boston! I learned you don’t have to always say things “just so” and to think quickly on my feet. Importantly, I found Improv frees my mind to imagine and explore new possibilities, which include different ways to write and present scientific stories and information.
I have been surprised by how many scientists I have met in Improv. I met a fellow scientist, Raquell Holmes, who uses Improv to help scientists improve their communication and collaboration skills. Through Improv, we are able to improve our listening skills and our ability to work together, brainstorm and imagine new possibilities.
One new possibility is using Improv to teach science. I look forward to presenting “Teaching Science in Unconventional Settings” and “Writing Science for your Audience” at the Cultivating Ensembles in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education and Research (CESTEMER) conference in September, which Raquell chairs. CESTEMER focuses on combining performance with science and science education. It brings together scientists and science educators who don’t usually work together to discuss science and science education from a different perspective. I am looking forward to this new challenge and look forward to sharing more with you after the conference.
Tip: Free your mind using improv to imagine new ways of writing and presenting scientific information.