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Introducing: NOVA Science Studio

To diversify the voices we hear in science communication, NOVA has created a program where access meets opportunity for underrepresented youth

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With a legacy spanning more than four decades, NOVA has long been at the forefront of science journalism through many social and cultural shifts. Though there have been meaningful strides towards a more inclusive society, both STEM and journalism continue to suffer from low representation of women and people of color. In looking forward to the future and the next generation of science storytellers, NOVA is dedicated to better reflecting the true diversity in our society by creating a new pipeline for people and perspectives that have often been left out. The NOVA Science Studio is a new program aspiring to change the face of STEM by championing young diverse voices in science communication. Our hope is to create more access for youth that have had traditionally less opportunity. By immersing students in the world of science journalism, we hope to encourage them to use their curiosity to tell stories that reveal the science hiding in everyday life. By providing them with a platform to share what they learn with the world, the NOVA Science Studio will create a space to elevate the voices of teens about important issues in science today.

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In November of 2018, NOVA launched a pilot of this program at three sites in the Greater Boston area: Somerville High School, the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science, and 826 Boston. In our inaugural cohort, students will publish science articles and short form videos on topics of their choosing—ranging from artificial intelligence to environmental toxins’ impact on human health—under the guidance of NOVA broadcast, digital, and editorial staff. We will also connect students to a robust network of scientists, academics, and gatekeepers in the field of science communication.

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During a tour of WGBH’s Calderwood Studio, students got hands-on experience with professional studio cameras and teleprompters.

Though NOVA Science Studio has only been active for several months, we have already witnessed how the program is empowering our students to think critically about how science is communicated in the news, advertising, and entertainment they consume. Through the program’s multidisciplinary curriculum, not only are we helping students develop scientific literacy and media production skills, we are also showcasing the powerful but oft untold history of scientists of color, drawing parallels between the roads they have paved and the students’ own potential. From learning about the hardships and achievements of black chemist Percy Julian in the early 20th century, to watching Morehouse student Julien Turner use rap to memorize the cellular life cycle in a viral YouTube video, we use a wide range of examples of science communication that will resonate with students and inspire them.

We believe in the mission of the NOVA Science Studio and most importantly in the passion, creativity, and brilliance of our students. We hope to inspire a more diverse group of science communicators who are equipped with creative and technical skills and a support network of peers and mentors, so that they can go out to the world feeling prepared, represented, and supported. In the short-term, students will gain experience writing science articles and producing short-form science videos. In the long-term, we anticipate that students will gain fluency with digital media and science communication that will make them more informed consumers of the science news and information they encounter. We hope to show the students that though the worlds of STEM and journalism can seem insular, they will always have something to contribute and a story to tell. We believe in their ability to be do-ers, creators, and thinkers and the world is waiting to see what they will produce.

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