Translating Science Through Media: A Climate Change Experience

mas1.jpgThis summer we had a scientist from UMass Lowell, Juliette Rooney-Varga, come in and educate us, a group of high school students, about climate change. After we spent two weeks learning the material, we were given the task of relaying the ideas to a general audience. Much of the curriculum was advanced, and most of us still don’t understand the exact science, so bringing across the information in short films was an undeniable challenge. We were forced to pick out the key details and translate words such as “anthropogenic” into more common terms such as, “human made”. Overall, having such a challenge really forced us to learn the information, and inspired us to actually make a difference.

When it came to making the videos, we were assigned teams based on the sort of project we wanted to do. We ended up working in groups of three to five people. Our projects included movie trailers, a music video, an animated public service announcement, and a dramatic short.

In my experience, working in a group can be very challenging, however, it was great for me, a person who has relatively little experience with media, to have a supportive team that helped teach me how production actually works. I also appreciated that my group members were able to play off each others' ideas and make a project we were all proud of.

mas2.pngPersonally, I’ve always done well in, and enjoyed science classes. However, I have never had the experience of a high school science class not feeling like I was just studying for a test. Translating science through media made the material much more applicable to everyday life, which made it much more interesting. In fact, although the material we learned and worked with was science class material, and even though I’ve probably learned more about global warming in the past five weeks than in my previous eighteen years of life, never did this experience feel like schoolwork.

Other students had similar experiences “Everyone who worked here definitely shared the same feelings I have about working at this great place.” Said Dinene, “working here made the summer go by so fast”. The “combination of media and science made science more digestible,” said Tessa. “And it made media more meaty,” added Sam, the other member of her video team.

Regardless of whether we’ve been working here for years, or, like me, this is our first year at this site, we have genuinely enjoyed the past five weeks, and everyone has come out of this proud of the work we made.

- Hannah Braunlin