Mthuthuzeli Zamxaka and Prof Janice Limson (Rhodes) guide students at UWC’s Life Sciences Building in learning how to communicate their work to a wider audience at the final NPEP NanoNews workshop on 5th December. Photo by Dr Matthew Harsh.
“Leave the researcher behind. Think like a writer!” Daryl Ilbury of SAASTA challenged nanoscience students in Cape Town grappling with the challenge of learning to write for the general public. The final NPEP NanoNews workshop for the year brought ten Cape Town students to UWC’s Life Sciences Building to start their journey in science communication.
Indeed, the biggest challenge student writers appear to face is breaking out of the academic style of writing and focusing on a different kind of audience.
With three NanoNews writing workshops behind us this year and a total of 24 postgraduate students trained in three cities, NPEP is beginning to reap the value of the investment in future nanotechnology researchers in the country. Student writers who have benefited from the workshops in Grahamstown, Pretoria and Cape Town, are now becoming regular contributors to the NPEP NanoNews.
One of the budding new writers whose article appears in this edition is Janske Nel, an MSc student at the University of the Western Cape. Her article from the workshop is published in this month’s issue of the NanoNews. “I found the workshop, presented by people who clearly know what they’re talking about, to be informative and exciting”. The workshop was presented, and attended, by dynamic and enthusiastic people who wish to communicate to everyone in SA how amazing science is.”
In Cape Town Mthuthuzeli Zamxaka, Coordinator of the NPEP, introduced some of the enduring reasons for science writing, followed by Prof George Claassen of Stellenbosch University succinctly outlining the key elements of writing science news. Daryl Ilbury, SAASTA Media Coordinator guided students towards developing their own style as they reflect on what a good science story should convey.
Highlights for other learners such as UCT’s Shakeela Sayed and Nangamso Nyangiwe of CPUT was the personalized interaction: “All four of the facilitators helped guide each of the students as we workshopped our articles.”
Social media means that we have a wide number of platforms for science communication. Ghouwaa Philander of iThemba Labs/UWC and Firdous Khan of UWC came with prepared articles they worked on to adapt for blogging or feature writing. For them the beauty of the workshops was that they could see their work ultimately published through the NanoNews. We look forward to seeing their articles here at NPEP NanoNews.
Writer: Janice Limson