Science Storytelling

A one-day workshop held in collaboration with the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Conference, Vancouver, BC

You’ve been curious about the Banff Science Communications program but have not had the time or money to attend — yet. Here’s your chance to taste the best of Banff in a one-day program tailored for this conference. Spend a day with the program’s founding faculty: leave the conference with a spring in your step and ideas for engaging mainstream audiences. Banff alum are welcome too for a booster shot! Brought to you by Beakerhead, the annual smash-up of art, science and engineering. Biology bit: Beakerhead was incubated in Banff and now offers the made-in-Banff science communications training across the country. Yep, the offspring ate its mother.


Jay Ingram, science broadcaster and author of 14 books on science
Thomas Hayden, Stanford journalism prof and co-editor of the Science Writer’s Handbook
Mary Anne Moser, president of Beakerhead



Welcome! It all starts here. We will spend a few minutes to discuss the goals of the program. You will hand in your pre-course assignment and we’ll go over a few key ideas that will help set the tone for the day.


The first session is an icebreaker based on the book covers you have brought. Each coffee club guest (that’s you) will interpret the strength and messages of the visual communication of your book cover, and tell something about yourself in the process.


We’ll begin some with warm up exercises that will prevent that brilliant mind of yours from being trapped in a body that is working against you.


Before we dive into skill development, we get strategic – and empirical. We will discuss why audience is the first thing to consider in communicating about science, and what it means to be as empirical about understanding audiences as we are about science itself.


Picking up on the audience-first theme, we will look at the art of pitching. After seeing what a good pitch looks like, you will have a chance to develop a pitch with the help of editors on hand.


What else is new? It’s a working lunch, but this time it will be social too as we work in groups to understand what works in a pitch. That very same thinking will be applied when you write your lede and nutgraph in the next session. Jargon alert!


Your writing flows like a river of perfection. But sometimes it doesn’t. No one needs to know that understanding structure can help you start and shape your beautiful science stories.


“I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” As Mark Twain knows, it takes time to be brief. In this session, we will ask you to write a very short personal 75-word intro to a story. We will workshop these opening sentences in small groups to help you understand how to mix structure with passion.


What have we learned today and how can audience-focused science storytelling inspire? The best way to bring this home is by acting it out. We’ll end the day with some dramatic science storytelling.

The Beakerhead Science Communications Program is grateful for support from: