09.12.2019, morning 10 o'clock: A group of enthusiastic writers of a wide age range was sitting in a room in the Lecture Hall Complex of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune. They were all waiting for someone. The murmuring stopped, the moment that person entered the room, and a story began-
Once upon a time, there lived a fish and a tadpole in a pond. Their friendship strengthened as they grew together. One day, the tadpole transformed into a frog and jumped onto the land. He explored the beautiful garden near the pond and was eager to share it with his fish friend. They then decided to go there together. However, unable to survive on land, the fish returned to the pond and let frog alone visit the land. The frog later explained the stories to the fish in such a way that the fish could visualize the beauty of the land.....
Such is a story of a science communicator too - said T. V. Venkateshwaran comparing the life of a science communicator to the life of a 'frog.' He is a science writer/scientist in Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi. The Science Media Centre (SMC), IISER Pune, organized a Workshop on Writing (WoW) Science from the 9th to 21st of December 2019 in collaboration with Vigyan Prasar. In the workshop, many renowned science writers and editors presented their thoughts and helped the participants to curve their knowledge in science writing and editing.
Dr. Venkateshwaran explained the concept of analogy, simile, metaphor, and their importance in science writing. These three ingredients are necessary for science write-ups to attract the lay-readers, however, with adequate proportions.
Along with him, another opening instructor of the sessions was Joseph Pinto, a renowned science journalist, and editor. He taught aspiring science writers how to learn to unlearn. The fascinating session with Mr. Pinto was the story of 'the Thirsty Crow.' It was such a pleasure to read the age-old story from the angle of multiple writers. Also, the method of writing a story using up to five-letter word was certainly challenging (Seriously, try it!).
WoW Science, a 13 day-long workshop, was an experience of reformation. The learning and unlearning, the rigorous practice sessions, the lab hopping, interviews, and the storytelling at the dinner tables made the whole workshop experience of a lifetime. In the voice of the participants-
"This workshop helped me to gain insights into writing science news articles."
Mr. Dinesh Sharma, the former managing editor of India Science Wire, carried the session forward from the second week onward along with Mr. Kollegala Sharma, a Science Communicator, Senior Principal Scientist, Central Food Technological Research Institute. Lesson by Mr. Dinesh Sharma, a highly experienced editor, was a valuable one. He and Mr. Kollegala Sharma, both the Sharmas together, taught the tactics of editing news articles.
There were a few guest speakers, who added unique flavors to the workshop. Dr. Shanti Kalipatnapu, Principal Technical Officer (Research Communication), IISER Pune, shared her work on designing the IISER Pune' News & Views' page. Dr. Sanjay Tambat, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Pune and Yogesh Barate, a local News Writer, together discussed communication of science in regional language. Jyoti Singh, Social Media Manager, Vigyan Prasar, explained how much social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram influences our daily life and how we as science communicators can effectively channel science news through these media. Hemant Gole, a farmer of Pune, raised the issue of pollution that occurred in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh due to the rice-straw burning of agricultural fields in Haryana and Punjab. He addressed the difficulties in writing issues related to the environment. Vivek Kannadi, Senior Technical Officer, IISER Pune, and Rafeeque Mavoor, Science Illustrator, IISER Pune, conducted one session each on the technicalities of publishing a magazine. Rafeeque Mavoor also taught a few software useful in designing magazine templates and cover pages.
At the end of this 13-days long workshop, The participants produced a magazine 'Scintillate.' They delivered individual articles as well as articles in groups on different topics such as medicine, technology, environment, etc. We hope to see the further continuation of this magazine in the near future.
The SMC, IISER Pune, acknowledges the generous funding by Vigyan Prasar and their cooperation throughout the workshop. SMC also appreciates the effort put by the instructors and the enthusiastic participants to bring this workshop to an end with a positive note with inaugurating the magazine 'Scintillate.'
-written by Dr. Suchibrata Borah