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Join the Reach Out Science Communication Challenge

Calling All NSF Science and Technology Center Students and Postdocs!

Sharpen Your Skills, Share Your Story

Would you like to share your science with a wider audience? Brush up your storytelling skills? Ace your virtual presentation game? And... are you affiliated with one of the National Science Foundation’s 12 flagship STCs? (see rules and eligibility below)

If so, the Museum of Science invites YOU to join the Reach Out Science Communication Challenge! The virtual Reach Out Science Slams will be live streamed this spring, offering thousands of dollars in stipends and prize money and a leg up on your career. Get ready by signing up for our free interactive online science communication workshops this January and February, and join our growing community of next-generation science ambassadors.

Participate in free online workshops in January and February 2021. Entries are due March 7th, and the Science Slams will take place (they will be live streamed!) in April and May.

Reach Out Science Slam

Channel your inner science superstar and enter the Reach Out Science Slam! Slam finalists will perform their three-minute science stories on our virtual stage as they compete for votes and prizes. The Slam Finals will be Zoomcast LIVE in early May before a national audience and a panel of expert judges. $1,000 prizes will be awarded to the audience choice winner as well as the judges’ pick.

Guidelines — How to craft a winning Slam entry

  • The Prompt: Tell a story that engages an all-ages audience in your area of research or the broader work of your STC. You could illuminate a key concept related to your area of research, communicate the significance of a challenge your STC is tackling, or show the power of interdisciplinary team science.

  • Be creative! You may work individually or in teams; you may use slides, props, animations, music, or dance.

  • All entries must:

    • Be under three minutes.

    • Include a LIVE presentation component.

    • Be accessible and appealing to a general audience.

    • Communicate the impact (or potential impact) of the work.

    • Be scientifically valid.

All qualified entries will earn a $50 stipend. Semifinalists and Finalists will be invited to participate in virtual coaching sessions and will earn additional stipends ($150 – $250) preparing their presentations for the spotlight. See Stipends, Prizes, and Incentives for more details.

Enter the Reach Out Science Slam!

Submit your Entry: January 1 — March 7, 2021

Entry instructions

  • Read the full Rules & Eligibility.

  • Make a video recording of your entry. (This doesn’t have to be a polished video, just one that records your story and approach.)

  • Complete the entry form by March 7, 2021, and include a link to your entry video.

Reach Out Science Communication Workshops

Need help preparing for the Slam? Or just looking to expand your virtual SciComm skills? The online Reach Out Science Communication workshops are designed to take your skills to the next level and prepare you to share your science story with public audiences. Whether you're looking for help crafting your three-minute Science Slam entry, want to become a more engaging presenter, or just want to brush up on your online presentation skills, these 90-minute small-group interactive workshops have something for you!

These free, interactive workshops will be delivered via Zoom by a team of experienced science communication professionals from the Museum of Science, Boston. The workshops are open to students and postdocs affiliated with the 12 NSF-funded Science & Technology Centers. (See a list of the STCs, in the Rules & Eligibility section below.)

Session 1 – Crafting an Engaging Science Story

Topics include: connecting with your audience; refining your message; telling a compelling story.

Session 2 – Acing your Virtual Presentation

Topics include: using visuals and props to explain your science; best practices for virtual presentations; Zoom tips and tricks.

To keep group size small and accommodate participants across the country, each session will be offered on a variety of dates and times. Workshops will take place on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays in January and February 2021. Participants are welcome to attend either or both sessions.

Sign up for a workshop

  • -   Resources for Slammers
  • -   Rules and Eligibility
    Reach Out Eligibility Requirements

    You must be:

    • An early-career researcher (undergraduate researcher, graduate student, or postdoctoral fellow) at least 18 years old and currently associated with one of the 12 NSF-funded Science & Technology Centers.
      • Center for Bright Beams (CBB)
      • Center for Cellular Construction (CCC)
      • Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB)
      • Science and Technology Center on Real-Time Functional Imaging (STROBE)
      • Biology with X-Ray Free Electron Lasers (BioXFel)
      • Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines (CBMM)
      • Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM)
      • Center for the Study of Evaluation in Action (BEACON)
      • Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)
      • Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S)
      • Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (CEBICS)
      • Center for Science of Information (CSol)
    • Available to perform live online at Science Slam Semifinal and Final events in April/May 2021 (dates/times TBD) if selected as a Semifinalist or Finalist.

    Slam Rules
    • Length: 2 – 3 minutes.
    • Competitors may work individually or in teams.
    • Competitors may use slides, props, animation, video, ASL, demonstrations, music, or movement and dance, though they are not required to do so.
    • Entries must include a live presentation component.
    • All material must be suitable for family audiences.
    • Competitors will allow the Museum to make use of their Reach Out Slam recording and associated materials for educational purposes, with appropriate credit.
    • All material must be original, or used with permission, with rights cleared for internet posting. (See Fair Use guidelines)
    • Competitors invited to participate in the Reach Out Science Slams must confirm their intention to participate within one week of notification.
    • Competitors in the Reach Out Science Slams will sign a photo/video release which allows the Museum of Science full photo/audio/video distribution rights.
  • -   Judging Criteria and Process
    • Qualified entries are those that meet the eligibility standards and rules and comply with the guidelines above.
    • Competitors for the Reach Out Science Slam events will be selected by a panel of science communication professionals based on how well they fulfill the competition prompt and guidelines above.
    • Finalists and prize winners will be selected by an expert panel of judges and by audience choice voting during the live-streamed virtual Slam Finals.
  • -   Stipends, Prizes, and Incentives
    • Eligible participants who submit qualified entries will receive a $50 stipend. (Participants are welcome to submit multiple entries, but will only receive a single $50 stipend.)
    • Participants in the Reach Out Science Slam Semifinals and Finals will receive stipends ($150 for Semifinals; $250 for Finals) to help support further development of their entries.
    • Finalists will receive professionally packaged videos of their presentations. These will be posted on YouTube and distributed through Museum of Science and National Science Foundation social media.
    • The Audience Choice Winner of the Science Slam Finals will receive a $1,000 VISA gift card. The Judges’ Pick will also receive a $1,000 VISA gift card. Winning team entries will receive a single prize to split between team members.
  • -   FAQs
    • What is the Reach Out Science Communication Challenge?

      • The Reach Out Science Communication Challenge is a virtual science communication cultivation program designed to inspire and guide early-career researchers at the nation’s NSF Science and Technology Centers to sharpen their science communication skills and engage with public audiences. Reach Out includes a set of free online science communication training workshops and science slam competitions presented by the Museum of Science. Reach Out is jointly sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Museum of Science.

    • How do I know if I’m eligible to enter the Reach Out Science Slam?

      • To participate in Reach Out you must be an undergraduate researcher, graduate student, or postdoc associated with one of the 12 National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers. See our full Rules and Eligibility to find out more.

    • Can I attend the science communication workshops without entering the competition?

      • Yes! Even if science slams are not your thing, the Reach Out Workshops will help sharpen your science communication skills and prepare you for presentations and public engagement experiences both inside and outside of academia.

    • Are the workshops required to enter the competition?

      • Nope! But we highly recommend them.

    • How can I watch the Reach Out Science Slam events?

      • The Slam events will be livestreamed on Zoom via the Museum of Science, Boston, as well as on the Museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Please feel free to share these events with your colleagues, friends, and families. Dates and times will be announced when they are determined.

    • Can my Reach Out! Slam be a pre-recorded video?

      • No, not entirely. You may use pre-recorded elements such as videos, animations, slides, or props to support your performance, but the majority of your slam should be a live presentation that engages a live audience.

    • What should I include in my Reach Out entry video?

      • You and your enthusiasm for science! Your entry video does not have to be a polished performance, but it does need to demonstrate how you will meet the criteria listed in the prompt. Entry videos should be no more than three minutes long. If you are selected to participate in a slam, you will have plenty of time to revise and improve your entry.

    • What do you mean “include a link” to my entry video?

      • Upload your entry video to a hosting service of your choice (including but not limited to YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) and make sure to copy the link into your entry form. Double-check that the settings will allow the video to be viewed by clicking on the link.

    • Don’t see the answer you’re looking for?

  • -   Fine Print
    • Participants living and working in the US on certain types of visas may be subject to restrictions regarding prizes/stipends. Please check with the International Students/Scholars Office at your institution for more information. Your institution may also have certain restrictions, whether or not you are on a visa.
    • The Museum of Science reserves the right to modify or cancel the competition at any time for any reason, including but not limited to an insufficient number of qualified entries received.
    • The Museum of Science has the final say on any point not clearly outlined in the entry rules.
    • The decisions of the judges are final.

    Further Inquiries – reachout@mos.org

    Support provided by the National Science Foundation grant #1231319