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Courses and Workshops

Science education is still largely based on full frontal teacher/student relationship. This traditional and time honoured passing of knowledge from “brain to brain” produces good results but at times can be quite dry and far from exciting. Many students can be put off by it and as a result they drop out of the field and opt for lesser rigorous subjects.

Here is where JPT workshops and courses find their relevance. Humans are irrational beings, they base a lot of their understanding on non-rational intuitions. These can nevertheless be fundamental in motivating and producing real scientific advancements (the concept of Serendipity and Newton’s apple are easily understandable metaphors for this concept). JPT’s core idea it that understanding the scientific impact of science in society and identifying the real themes that motivate the scientific effort can be instrumental in spurting curiosity and therefore the desire to learn. This is how we challenge conventional thinking: by educating the educators to identify these connections and themes and developing their delivery.

One precious outcome of JPT’s workshops and courses is that they provide tools to excite young minds, empowering them and preventing a lot of students from disenfranchising from science.

Storytelling Techniques and Theatre Training Methods for Science Teachers and Popularizes

Very often arises the need for speaking in public: to present a research project, to ask for a grant, when giving a lesson… but just as often we may feel uneasy about the challenge. Do I feel comfortable being in front of an audience? What am I doing with my body and voice? Am I conveying the correct message? How do I tailor my message to my audience? Should I emphasize certain words or concepts? Which ones? Should I look at the audience in the eyes? How do I know when I have the audience’s attention and what to do if I start to lose it? In other words: how do I become a better speaker?
This workshop helps popularizers and communicators of science better understand their audiences, tailor their messages to them, and convey ideas powerfully using storytelling and other performing arts techniques.

The workshop is usually delivered in 18 hours spread over 3 days. Ideally participants are limited to 18. The workshop is divided into three modules:
Module 1 deals with defining the subject, key messages and deeply understanding the audience.
Module 2 is about applying storytelling techniques to convey the message.
In Module 3 the communication is prototyped and tested in front of an audience.
The workshop structure and duration can be tailored to the organizers’ needs and resources available.

Detailed overview

Module 1 – Perspective, understanding and defining
What is modern science communication? What is my role as a storyteller and communicator? Why is it important that I maximize my impact? Furthermore, what is the real narrative that I want to convey? What is my audience, and what is their level of knowledge on the subject? What stereotypes do they have regarding the subject, and how can we debunk them? How is the subject relevant to them, to society? This module will enable us to take a step back from the detail of what we wish to communicate, to situate it in a wider context, learn about our audiences and how to adapt the key messages to them.

Module 2 – Storytelling
By using aptly modified theatre training and storytelling techniques we open up to the audience and become better public speakers. In the process we develop practical exercises to: finding one’s center; increase one’s own awareness (what I do, what others do); gaining a healthy sense of confidence in the relationship with the others; developing listening skills; improvisation; tempo/rhythm; leadership and courage. Moreover, during this module some time is devoted to proper breathing techniques and voice management.

Module 3 – Prototyping and Testing
Here we integrate modules 1 and 2 into a very practical and engaging exercise. We will practice delivering the content and, by means of trial and error, learn to maximize the impact of our performance. Furthermore, we will explore the connection with different audiences, tailoring our performance in suitable ways (modifying the rhythm, tone, the choice of words used, physical attitudes, etc.). Ultimately, we will design several approaches, test them in front of an audience, to understand which work best and what can be improved.

Targets Audiences
The workshop is targeted at University Professors, Researchers, Science Teachers, Science Writers, Science Popularizers and Students, anyone who is engaged or interested in popularizing knowledge around science and the scientific method.

The workshop is delivered by Andrea Brunello and Pierre Echard.

Course on Scientific Storytelling - Theatre Tools to Tell Science

The university-level course is designed for those who want to learn how to become storytellers of science. Both theoretical and practical skills and tools will be provided to develop the ability to become narrators and scientific communicators working on two basic aspects of storytelling: the construction of the story (dramaturgy) and its public restitution.

The course is designed for those who need to meet an audience, not necessarily composed of experts in the field, and to find the keys to create a sense of curiosity and wonder around the exposed scientific contents.

Each participant is asked to identify a theme / scientific subject on which to focus attention. On that subject a scientific “narrative” is developed. We start by devising a dramaturgical plot in the first part of the course and then, by means of refining moments, each participant creates a short story in the style of storytelling or in the style of the theatrical monologue.

More in detail, in the first part of the workshop the fundamental techniques of dramaturgy are used: the identification of the main theme, the construction of a plot, the devising of the characters with their objectives and obstacles. In the second part of the workshop we work towards a simple dramatization of the stories / narratives / dramas proposed. Tools are provided to develop participants' skills in storytelling, acting and public speaking.

At the end of the course there is a public performance, with an open event where participants are able to meet the public in a series of micro presentations lasting a few minutes.

The course can be either intensive or distributed in several teaching appointments. It is usually delivered in 20 or more teaching hours. The maximum number of participants is 20. The course structure and duration can be tailored to the organizers’ needs and resources available.

Targets Audiences
The course is targeted at university level Students (either undergraduate or graduate), Science Writers and Science Popularizers.
The course is taught by Andrea Brunello.

Ad Hoc requests

We are more than happy to put our knowledge and know-how at the disposal of schools, universities, science museums, and organisations that may need coaching with respect to theatre methods applied to scientific storytelling and popularization. Those interested in our courses, workshops or any other ad hoc request are invited to contact us, we would be delighted to discuss with you how we can best suit your needs.

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