The BBC are looking for academics and researchers to contribute to the website which accompanies their new series ‘Bang Goes the Theory’. Questions are asked by the viewing public via the series website (www.bbc.co.uk/bang), and a selection are posted to a behind-the-scenes discussion forum (beaconsqanda.com). There, answers are drafted, the science is discussed (and argued), and eventually the BBC folks make their editorial selection and post final versions for sign-off. Completed answers are copied across to the public website on a weekly basis, with the author(s) credited for their contributions. So far, they have around 140 academics working on the forum and, although the programme is ‘scientific’, it seems like there would be scope for some Humanities and Social Science researchers to wade into the debate (get a sense of some of the questions that have been asked at the BBC website above).
In order to participate you need to register on the forum at http://beaconsqanda.com/start/
There is also an accompanying workshop which is being led by Jonathan Sanderson (profile below). The date for the workshop has not been fixed yet, but is likely to be September 15th. You don’t have to attend the workshop to participate in the forum, but it will cover things like journalistic and sub-editing skills (to improve your writing and make it interesting and accessible to the public), the basics of photography, and how to make a short film. While these elements are all primarily intended to help you to answer questions that are posted on the website in more inventive and interesting ways, they’re also great skills to have if you’re doing any teaching or other public engagement.
If you’re interested in attending the workshop, let me know and I can e-mail you a draft programme.
Jonathan Sanderson finished a degree in physics and accidentally fell into television. For the next dozen-or-so years he made science series for all the major broadcasters, and a few more that are now defunct. His worst series received a BAFTA nomination; sadly, none of his better shows did.
More recently, he’s been exploring alternative approaches to public service children’s media via the NESTA/Institute of Physics-funded project Planet SciCast (www.planet-scicast.com). He’s also provided consultation and training on science/media/web projects for clients including the STFC, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.
His lectures and workshops are a fixture of the British Interactive Group’s annual Event, and have also been seen at the British Science Association’s Science Communication Conference, booked by the British Council, and used by universities and science visitor centres across the country.