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CommForge2 is the course website for LAIS423/523, Advanced Science Communication, at the Colorado School of Mines. From here, you can link to student sci-tech blogs, read about the course, and comment on current events and stories. Welcome!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sexy Snails

Today in class we listened to this NPR story from veteran science reporter Joe Palca.  The story translates the findings of this study (no subcription required), which shows that a certain species of male snail is the epitome of the superdad.   In fact, they are such good dads that they carry around the eggs of offspring, who are not their own, on their very own backs.  And they don't even ask for child support.

Snail Daddies.  Courtesy NPR.

The reason we looked at the story in class is not because we are so interested in snails, but because this news story offers a great example of science communication--the story begins with a Monty Python clip (an effort to "arouse" the audience, if you believe Randy Olson, whose book Don't Be Such a Scientist we're reading in class).  It then mentions "sex" a few times (in this case, referring to snail reproduction), interweaves scientific information with a few more jokes and some soundbytes from science, and above all tells us why the findings of the study are important.

Which is pretty much the opposite of hitting us over the head with a bunch of science facts.  NPR may not be perfect, and my guess is that the scientists featured in this story would have preferred more detail in the story and less Monty Python.  But this counts as an example of good public science communication--at least as far as mass media goes--in my book.

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