New York Blog

February’s SoNYC: On Science and Social Media – Introduction

February’s Science Online NYC (SoNYC) co-organised by, is a super social media week special event at the American Museum of Natural History!  You can join us on Thursday February 16th in person, or online via the social media week livestream to discuss Beyond a Trend: Enhancing Science Communication with Social Media:

As a communications tool, social media is an undeniably effective way to enhance your message. But within the science realm, top communicators – both academic and professional – strive to use social media for something greater: to engage the public in a conversation about science. Never before has it been so easy for researchers, public information officers, educators, students, and journalists to talk directly to the public about the benefits, limits, and implications of scientific knowledge. Social media not only makes these meaningful conversations possible, but it often also makes them fun and compelling. During this session, hear from scientists, communicators, and educators who use social media tools and the philosophy behind them to find creative, collaborative, and engaging learning opportunities.

This month’s panel:

– American Museum of Natural History educators who are developing a “tool kit” of mobile apps, websites and more to help middle school students collect, share and present data on urban biodiversity

– Ben Lillie, the co-organizer of The Story Collider, which tells science stories by combining verbal narratives with podcasts, Twitter and an online magazine

– Matt Danzico, a BBC journalist who conducted a 365-day blog experiment called “The Time Hack” looking at how we perceive time

– Carl Zimmer, a science journalist whose latest book, Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed, is based on feedback he received on his Discover Magazine blog when he asked the question: are scientists hiding tattoos of their science?

– Moderator: Jennifer Kingson, day assignment editor, Science Department, The New York Times

Continuing the discussion 

To prepare for the upcoming discussion, we’re running a series of guest posts here on Of Schemes and Memes, recounting experiences where social media has been a key part of an education project.

The advent of social media has seen the birth of wider online initiatives aiming to engage the public with science. For example: the BBC’s So you want to be a scientist, a weekly science show that turns science ideas into real-life experiments, I am a scientist get me out of here (IAS), an X-factor style competition where students talk to scientists online for 2 weeks and vote for their favourite scientist, and Google’s Science Fair, the largest global online science competition. These projects aim to disseminate science effectively to wider audiences and celebrate the curiosity of young scientists. In our upcoming guest posts we will feature anecdotes from the participants of such projects as well as hear from an academic using social media as part of a university course, and consider the future of social media as an aid for learning.

The three scientists sharing their personal experiences are:

Dr Alan Cann from Leicester University. He will be giving an academic’s viewpoint on how social media can be used as part of the curriculum. His post considers how the effects of social media usage can be measured and what the future holds for such technology in the classroom.

– Dr Tom Crick, a senior lecturer in Computer Science, will talk about his experiences with the IAS competition, including a personal take on how he uses social media to aid learning.

– Ben Lillie, co-organizer of The Story Collider and one of the SoNYC panellists, will discuss how he uses social media to organise events and engage people online.

If you are keen to learn more about disseminating science using social media and other discussion forums, check out the write-up of December’s SoNYC and the following presentation by Christie Wilcox:


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