On the 19th of June 2018 Connected Health Cities joined forces with the Manchester branch of the British Science Association and Manchester University’s school of Electrical and Electronic Engineering to host a day-long science journalism workshop and competition for AS and A-level students across Greater Manchester. On the day eight schools stepped up to the challenge and teams of between six and nine pupils created their own one-minute news report based on an interview with a University Researcher.
Three of CHC’s staff, including researchers and communications specialists, took part in the day’s activities, teaching students some tricks of the communications trade and discussing their research projects.
CHC’s communication lead Stephen Melia kicked the day off with an introduction to the do’s and don’ts of science communication. From TED talks to METRO gaffs, Stephen covered the highs and lows of the communication ecosystem and gave the students a number of pointers for creating lows of the communication ecosystem and gave the students a number of pointers for creating their own journalistic pieces.
Following Stephen’s introduction and a break for some much needed re-fulling, the students separated into school teams to meet their assigned researchers and conduct their interviews. Researchers stayed with their teams for two hours, giving ample opportunity to discuss their work, academic lives, aspirations and everything in-between. The students were encouraged to be creative and to present their assigned academics’s work in a way which would appeal to other young people.
Without exception, the students threw themselves into the task using their knowledge, curiosity and indeed scepticism to draw out newsworthy stories from our researchers and gain insight into the academic world.
Software Engineer and Games Developer Ben Green commented: “I think it’s really wonderful to see the enthusiasm and indeed scepticism of teenagers. It’s simply their mode to question and challenge; a disposition I tend to think is lost all too easily later on.”
Ben spoke to students about his work using data on childhood growth patterns, collected across Greater Manchester, as a predictor of future health and wellbeing outcomes (https://www.champ.mft.nhs.uk/). The projects aim is to support understanding of weight-related health problems and to encourage positive lifestyle choices. However, any discussion regarding weight is also prone to raise concerns surrounding self esteem and eating disorders. Ben’s students worked hard to present a balanced overview of this work. The addition of vox pop style street interviews in their video showed team work and a desire to introduce the public voice into the discussion, not to mention their use of catchy title music.