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ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

 

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) launched a science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead. In theme for the holiday fun and humor, we’ll be discussing Gulp by Mary Roach. Head to BookPeople for 10% off if you mention the club or order online through the link. Save the date: Sunday, 12/2 at 4 pm on the third floor of BookPeople.

We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm.

Upcoming meetings and titles:
Sunday, 12/2 at 4pm: Mary Roach’s GULP (December)

Sunday, 1/6 at 4pm: David Quammen’s THE TANGLED TREE (January)

Sunday, 2/3 at 4pm: We’ll be voting soon on February’s love and sex read in the next few weeks!

Telling Stories: Using Narrative Techniques in Science Writing

Telling Stories: Using Narrative Techniques in Science Writing

Austin Texas Science Writers’ upcoming workshop focuses on the craft of narrative science writing, a form of creative nonfiction. In this all-day event, we will discuss what makes a good piece of writing, how to build a narrative arc, and how to craft a story to engage readers, beyond cut-and-dried facts. The workshop will open with a plenary speaker: seasoned journalist Kate Winkler Dawson whopreviously published “Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City” and just finished a book on the history of forensic sciencewill share the coveted knowledge of how to bring narrative writing techniques to complex topics, gleaning from her extensive portfolio of illustrative writing.

Break-out sessions will explore differences and narrative techniques that can be employed in different styles of science writing, including breaking news stories, longform essays, and narrative features.

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Can You Predict a Classic Read?

Can You Predict a Classic Read?

Written by BookPeople discussion facilitator of ATXSciRead, Christine Havens

 

The world of fiction has its canon, those books agreed upon by old white men sitting in closed rooms, though PBS’ The Great American Read recently and publicly gave more voice to “everyday” readers, thus opening up the list of novels considered classics. Each fiction genre has its own canon, too. But what about the non-fiction realm, specifically the genre of science? Which books are the standards, the classics, the ones that a person studying science would be shame-faced to admit he, she, or they haven’t read?

That’s a question that has come up in the first two ATXSciRead book group gatherings. Our first meeting, in October, was a discussion of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring; we read Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t (2012) for November’s gathering. While the group readily agreed that Carson’s book is a classic because of her impassioned, eloquent writing and her topic, the consensus was that Silver’s book might not become part of the canon of science writing. Both books have been groundbreaking, or at least, Silver’s work has been groundbreaking, however, members felt that The Signal and The Noise lacked a certain resonance that marks a classic.

That doesn’t mean the group didn’t enjoy the book. Each person related more strongly to certain sections than others. Not all could relate to Silver’s discussion about baseball stats, but did find his discussion of hurricane prediction relevant, though he misses some things about climate change. Election prediction and just the ideas of prediction, statistics, and the human desire to look for patterns formed a large part of our conversation. Silver’s challenge to readers about whether they were hedgehogs or foxes garnered laughter as we each considered our responses.

While not every book that the group reads must be a classic, or have the potential of becoming one, the question makes for thoughtful conversation, especially since a few folks are also science writers who look to the books being read as examples for themselves. And even for those who are not hoping to become accomplished authors in the genre, the question sparks thoughts of future generations of readers. It’s not easy to predict a classic, or is it?

For example, our December read is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach, who is herself becoming a classic, or at least a standard, of science writing. Roach’s books and articles are easily accessible for the layperson, on subjects that often involve the quirks surrounding our physical bodies and our humanity. Her style is light, humorous, informative, and relevant. They’re always on the Indie Next and NYT bestseller lists. Will her works stand the test of time?

Join us on December 2, at 4:00 pm, on BookPeople’s third floor for what’s sure to be a lively discussion about that question, as well as ones about your “ick factor,” your favorite smell, and more. Here is an article Roach wrote for Smithsonian magazine about the science behind hot peppers: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/the-gut-wrenching-science-behind-the-worlds-hottest-peppers-73108111/.

Gulp, and the other upcoming titles will be available to purchase at BookPeople for a 10% discount.

ATX Sci Read is the brainchild of Austin Texas Science Writers, a local non-profit devoted to science communication. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for updates about our upcoming book-club reads.

In January, we’ll discuss the The Tangled Tree by David Quammen.

 

ATXSciWri Happy Hour @Sour Duck

ATXSciWri Happy Hour @Sour Duck

Join ATXSciWri for a meet-and-greet happy hour to chat about science communication. Stop by Sour Duck Market in East Austin on Thursday November 8 from 5:30 to 7:00 and learn about plans for our December workshop, book club, field trips, and co-work hours. Become a stakeholder in your local scicomm community and help us ramp up science communication in Central Texas! More info at www.atxsciwri.org.

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ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) launched a science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead. In theme for November elections, we’ll be discussing <The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t> by Nate Silver. Head to BookPeople for 10% off if you mention the club. Save the date: Sunday, 11/4 at 4 pm on the third floor of BookPeople.

 

We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm.

Upcoming meetings and titles:
Sunday, 11/4 at 4 pm (meet on the third floor): Nate Silver’s THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE (November)

Sunday, 12/2 at 4pm: Mary Roach’s GULP (December)

Sunday, 1/6 at 4pm: David Quammen’s THE TANGLED TREE (January)

Mad Men and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: A Book Club Meeting Recap

Mad Men and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: A Book Club Meeting Recap

ATXSciRead Book Club: Recap of Our First Meeting + a Preview of Upcoming Picks

By book club facilitator and ATXSciWri member Eileen McGinnis

 

 

Our first book-club meeting ended with a lingering image.

As we were wrapping up our discussion Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, one participant chimed in with a scene from the TV show Mad Men that had come to mind while reading the book.

In the scene, housewife Betty Draper shakes out a picnic blanket, nonchalantly tumbling plates, napkins and other debris into the grass of a public park before packing the family into the car. The episode is set in the early 1960s, around the time that Carson’s environmentalist classic was published.

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ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club @BookPeople

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club @BookPeople

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) is launching a new science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead. First up: Rachel Carson’s environmental classic, Silent Spring. Head to BookPeople, online or in-store, for 10% off if you mention the club. Save the date: Sunday, 10/7 at 4 pm in the BookPeople cafe.

 

We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm.

Upcoming meetings and titles:
Sunday, 10/7 at 4 pm (meet in the cafe): Rachel Carson, SILENT SPRING
Sunday, 11/4 at 4 pm (meet on the third floor): Nate Silver, THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE

Members Exclusive: The Loh Down Happy Hour

Members Exclusive: The Loh Down Happy Hour

Members-only happy hour with NPR podcast host Sandra Tsing Loh, from The Loh Down on Science

After Sandra Tsing Loh’s keynote lecture exploring science communication 3–4pm in the SAC Auditorium (1.402) on campus, ATXSciWri will host an exclusive happy hour from 4:30pm for our members. Space will be limited to the first 12 respondents that are members.

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Collaborative Workshop: Bridging the Space Between the Lab and the Press

Collaborative Workshop: Bridging the Space Between the Lab and the Press

REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Members receive a discount for year-round events. For our first-ever workshop, members will receive a discount of 50%. Non-member price for the workshop is $40, but $20 for Practicing Professional, Associate, and Student Members. Sign-up to become a member (https://www.atxsciwri.org/join/) before registering for the discount. After your membership is approved, the discount will be automatically applied to your shopping cart.

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This inaugural full-day workshop featuring an expert panel and break-out sessions will explore spaces where scientists and science communicators interact, offering an unprecedented perspective into each others’ perception of popular science media coverage. Results will be disseminated to the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) for use nationwide. Funding for the workshop was provided by a NASW Peggy Girshman Idea Grant.

 

Featuring panelists:

Dr. Susan Hovorka // Scientist

Dr. Susan Hovorka is a senior research scientist in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin studying how to reduce green house emissions by geologic carbon sequestration. Hovorka also helps facilitate communication between scientists and the  public, focusing on pre-college students and teachers, particularly regarding energy security and climate mitigation technology.

 

Dr. Juli Berwald // Science Writer

Dr. Juli Berwald is an ocean scientist and science writer who has written for outlets such as National Geographic magazine, Discover magazine, Wired.com, The Huffington Post, Slate, and several other popular science outlets. By combining science and memoir, Berwald told her story of the thread of science throughout her life in her recently published book, Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone.

 

Marc Airhart // Moderator

Mar Airhart has more than 15 years of experience as a science communicator. He is currently a communications coordinator and science writer embedded in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the contact point between many writers, journalists, and news outlets and the scientific research that goes on at the university. He produces the Point of Discovery Podcast.

 

Collaborative discussion and breakout sessions

During a time when media and scientific public distrust makes daily headlines and the pressure puts more demand on scientists and communicators, scientists and the press need to connect. This workshop aims to break barriers to scientist and media interaction and foster the partnership with aligned, collective interests: public education and scientific literacy.

During breakout sessions of the Bridging Spaces workshop, in addition to learning the various skills and strategic use of writing, participants will help compile an expert-sourced guide that reduces the complication and frustration of media coverage, and writers will learn more about what scientists want them to know, questions they never get asked but want you to know, what that last conference coverage was like. Both will leave with a local Rolodex of sources and connections to amplify their work without complicating their workload.

Ever had a question or comment on how journalists, writers, and communicators do their work? Bring it for discussion.

ATXSciWri directors will polish and deliver results to the nation’s largest association for science writers, the National Association of Science Writers, with the opportunity for science writers and communication-savvy scientists nationwide to adapt those results.

Refreshments and lunch provided!

 

 

 

Science communicators meetup at The Jackalope

Science communicators meetup at The Jackalope

Want to hobnob w/ fellow science communicators who live in Central Texas? Or, are you in town for ONA18? Either way, you’re welcome to attend our meetup at The Jackalope downtown. (We’ll probably be decamped inside, escaping the Texas heat.)

 

ONA18 is in Austin this year and runs Sept 13-15

The Online News Association is an annual conference and networking event focused on the latest trends and best practices in digital media by bringing together the best and the brightest in online journalism to share innovative ideas for the future newsroom to keep ahead of the curve.

Find more about ONA at https://ona18.journalists.org/