George Zaidan explores the smelly world of farting and gut bacteria.

What are the biggest challenges that you face when producing a new Science Out Loud episode?

ELIZABETH: It’s funny, I talk to many members of the community here whose eyes will just light up when they’re talking about their research, and then when you ask them to write a script or you turn on the camera, it’s this sudden fall-back to formulaic, textbook-like, and almost robotic content and delivery. We’ve just been ingrained with a sort of traditionally bland mode of knowledge transfer throughout the majority of our education that it’s a very hard habit to fight. But it’s also probably one of the most fun parts, helping the students to be themselves on camera. It’s also difficult to get them to think outside of their MIT perspective, which is completely understandable—if I’d been asked to do this as an undergrad I probably would have been the worst! But thinking about what someone outside your sphere would find interesting or uninteresting, or identifying the parts of your world that others may not be able to see but would want to… it’s hard to step outside of yourself and do that.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from teachers and students who have used Science Out Loud videos in the classroom?

ELIZABETH: They like that we show real-world applications to the things they learn in the classroom and bring them to this world outside of the textbook. Science Out Loud was never intended to be an instructional series. Instead, we try to highlight the resources we have at MIT and give other people—who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them—a window into these resources, and the chance to start their own discussions.

What are your next steps for the Science Out Loud series and the MIT+K12 Fellowship program?

ELIZABETH: I’ll be teaching a class during MIT’s January term called “Becoming the Next Bill Nye,” where students can earn credit for learning about digital media literacy, STEM-advocacy, and what it means to be a good science communicator through writing and hosting short educational shows. I put this together after seeing that there was this huge opportunity to develop these skills during the production process of Science Out Loud, but one that we couldn’t really take advantage of because of limited time. We’ll take the best projects from the class and produce season 3, and eventually turn it into a semester-long course! As for the fellowship program, we just selected our inaugural class, and they’ll be working on various educational media projects (not just related to MIT+K12 Videos) throughout the spring semester. It’ll definitely be a learning experience for all of us, but hopefully one that will help them advance their interests and understanding of educational media. I would love to see this program continue as a way to support students who have an interest in occupying the space between science and media, in equipping them in a more specialized way.

MIT+K12 is a great example of how important it is for scientists to use new tools and spaces to share their work with the public. Challenging the perception of who scientists are and what they do is a powerful way to increase student interest in STEM and show them the agency that they have to accomplish great things. Check out the second season of Science Out Loud on their YouTube page and visit their website to learn more about the program!

Share this article

Major funding for NOVA is provided by the NOVA Science Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.