ReelLife Schools Science Communication Video Competition
This project will introduce a novel science communication video competition for primary and secondary school students, which will run from September to November 2013 and culminate in an exhibition and prize giving event at the Galway Science and Technology Festival. The project was conceived when Enda O’Connell was awarded €500 (which is being reinvested in the project) as a winner of the inaugural Irish “I’m a Scientist Get me Out of Here” outreach competition. By participating in this competition, pupils will: (i) explore and discuss the scientific concept in a classroom setting; (ii) investigate the facts and details necessary to convey the concept; (iii) prepare a storyboard and produce a 1-3 minute video with short written description; and (iv) propose how they would like to spend the prize money on science communication, if successful.
The competition will be open to primary and secondary schools from Co. Galway as well as to the secondary schools which took part in “I’m a Scientist…” in 2012. Secondary school students will choose from four Natural Science related concepts (Stem Cells, The Environment, , Astrobiology and Evolution), while primary school students will choose from three concepts (Our Bodies, Habitats and Keeping Healthy). Videos will be assessed based on their scientific accuracy, entertainment level, innovation and accessibility to a wide audience. Submissions will include a brief description and a proposal as to how the prize money would be spent communicating science within the school, and this will also form part of the assessment.
Videos will be reviewed by a team of NUI Galway researchers and students. Five shortlisted videos from each level (primary and secondary) will then be judged by a panel of prominent Irish and International scientists. The two winning videos will receive €250 to spend as per their proposal, while second and third placed videos will receive scientific equipment and resources to the value of €150 and €100, respectively.
The competition aims to involve school children in Science in a fun way, developing their analytical, creative and communication skills, while enabling NUI Galway researchers and students to engage in outreach in an innovative manner. In the case of secondary school participants undecided about their third level options and careers, it will also enable them to become more familiar with NUI Galway and its research and educational strengths.
The project members met a number of times to finalise the competition details (e.g. topics, prizes, video format, etc.), before contacting the schools. To best communicate the competition to teachers at this early stage, a flyer (along with a cover letter) was developed by Enda to email to all Galway primary and secondary schools, to print out for the classroom. Additionally, the 32 schools which took part in the 2012 “I’m a Scientist…” competition were invited to take part, via the “I’m a Scientist…” organisers. All schools to be contacted again in August by email and post, in anticipation of the new school year. A list of email addresses and contacts for Galway Primary and Secondary schools was developed by Muriel through the Galway Education Centre and the School Days website. Furthermore, the NUI Galway Schools Liaisons Officers have offered to promote ReelLife Science on their visits to invited schools in September/October.
A vital part of communicating the competition’s objectives and rules, is our online presence, so Dave Browe developed a “ReelLife Science” website using Wordpress, and Facebook and Twitter profiles. These sites are listed on the flyer to the schools, to give the teachers and students more information, via sections like “Teachers’ Tips” and “FAQs”. “Teachers’ Tips” outlines the steps involved in selecting a topic and producing a video, and also gives some further information on the available topics, arising from a brainstorming exercise between the project members, as well as an examination of the Leaving Cert, Junior Cert and Primary school science curriculums. To keep a visual consistency across the websites, printed material etc. a logo was conceived by Enda and developed and designed by Marie, depicting a film reel spooled with a DNA double helix, beside the project’s name.