Center Personnel Contribute to and Learn from CESTEMER 2019

This image shows the logo for ecotheatre group Superhero Clubhouse. It is black on gray and shows a ladder reaching into a treehouse.
Superhero Clubhouse directors Jeremy Pickard and Lanxing Fu were keynote speakers at CESTEMER 2019.

“Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research” or “CESTEMER 2019: The Power of Connection: Performance, play, and creativity” brought together 90 participants from 6 countries and a wide variety of disciplinary, institutional, and social backgrounds on June 20-22 at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.

CESTEMER 2019 featured a keynote address by Lanxing Fu and Jeremy Pickard from Superhero Clubhouse, a New York-based group of scientists, artists, and environmental professionals working together to “shift consciousness in the face of global climate change.” Fu and Pickard shared stories of their after-school playwriting programs for elementary school children, their climate change and environmental justice workshops, and other aspects of their Superhero Clubhouse work.

The gathering included presentations, workshops, performances, lightning talks, and a poster session.

From Virginia Tech, Center for Communicating Science (CCS) faculty fellow Cassandra Hockman gave a lightning talk, “Scientists and writers: How a university collaboration (and beyond) shows they’re good friends.” Hockman described the project she began four years ago when she helped the students in a science writing course in the English department find graduate student researchers to interview and published the resulting feature stories on the Fralin website. For the past two years, the CCS has partnered with the English department on this project and published the resulting profiles of graduate researchers on the Research Stories page of our website, a collaboration that provides graduate students experience “dealing with the press” and undergraduate students experience “dealing with the scientist.”

CCS faculty fellow Daniel Bird Tobin performed “Laser,” an interdisciplinary performance piece he created with molecular scientist Scott Sayres of Arizona State University. As Tobin describes it, “Laser” explores the nature of lasers, the movement of electrons around molecules, and our intellectual and emotional understanding of scientific research.

In the CESTEMER poster session, Virginia Tech project director for destination areas Todd Nicewonger’s ethnographic research on the graduate communicating science course was represented. A collaboration with CCS director Patty Raun and associate director Carrie Kroehler, “Communicating Science: An ethnographic study” describes Nicewonger’s participant-observation study of the course, his early findings, and student interview responses.

Kroehler also facilitated an interactive workshop, “Who, what, when, where, how, and why, why, why? Exercises for distilling your message.” Participants were asked to talk about their research or other work in a variety of ways, with an emphasis on why it matters to their field of study, to the world, and to themselves.

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