Although many students are excited to see the results of a successful science experiment, they groan at the thought of writing a report about it. The truth is, most of us at Sci4Teens were once like this too, but now, we enjoy writing and editing science articles. How did this shift come to be?
For most of us, it came through realizing the importance of science communication and putting it into practice. To supplement our love of STEM, we completed independent research projects and wrote papers, joined editorial boards of journals, and blogged about various STEM topics. We thought it was difficult, at first, to understand the format of scientific papers and to communicate our results effectively, and almost all of us needed mentors. However, there were no words to describe the joy we felt after writing our first paper, our first blog piece, or our first review article.
The fact is, communication is important no matter what path one may choose to explore in the future. One science researcher may win the grant that the other researcher did not, just because the winner had a better proposal written. One company may outcompete another one for funding, because their elevator pitch was more effective. Research, as well as products, are only as “cutting-edge” as a communicator portrays it to be; in reality, the most successful CEOs and researchers have extremely successful careers due to their impactful communication.
When we realized all this, we decided to create Sci4Teens, an initiative that helps teens learn about and practice science communication at the comfort of their own homes through three sub-initiatives: science writing contests with mentors to answer participants’ questions, workshops which include STEM and science communication advice, and a newsletter which publishes interviews with established science communicators. Within three months of operation, we received 100 submissions to our first contest, around 180 attendees to our workshops, and four issues of our newsletter (with five more to be published in the coming weeks).
Although still in its initial stages, we hope to expand the reach of Sci4Teens to attract more teens from around the world regardless of income level. Through Sci4Teens, we know that we are making an impact in the field of science communication for our generation.