Image Big Issues plus Museum equals Solving Science

Solving Science & Big Issues

So it’s time for a big update! Since we last posted, in true covid-2020/1 fashion, everything has gone a bit odd and it’s now time to let you in on what’s been happening!

For the most part we have been laying the groundwork for the Big Issues conference and chatting with our speakers, along with many of you who have expressed an interest in the topics we are addressing. The result of all this talking and planning is a realisation on our part: namely that a conference isn’t actually a good fit for what we want to achieve.

At the same time, having wrangled with various funding bodies which are rightfully focusing on the global pandemic, it is simply not a good time to launch the museum. We feel that the museum will fill an important niche in science communication, that of humanising science and showcasing stories behind the science, but as it currently stands, we do not have the capacity to tell these stories properly.

As such we’ve made the following two decisions. First, we’re putting the Museum project on hiatus until we have the resources to do it right. The second change is to the Big Issues conference. We are working with some of the invited speakers to develop a lecture series we’ve dubbed “Solving Science“. These talks will be released as podcasts and YouTube videos starting in the Autumn. By this point most people, including us, have zoom-fatigue: the thought of a three day conference is equal parts exciting and dreadful. Spreading the talks out and leaving greater room for engagement is a much more flexible strategy and one that leaves room for growth in the future. We will also be able to address topics that we had to set aside for the conference. These include issues with respect to diversity, anti-racism, and public access among many others.

We ask you to bear with us while we refocus and learn all the new skills we need in this area! We hope that we’ll soon get the hang of it and you’ll be getting epic lens-flares, beautiful animations, and immersive CGI (but don’t hold your breath!).

This is a great opportunity to get involved on a schedule that suits you. If you submitted to the conference (or were thinking about it but were worried about the commitment), we would love to chat with you about having you on as a guest speaker or as part of a panel. Similarly, if you fancy trying your hand at interviewing, video editing, and science communication this could be a great fit for you! Just drop us a message on social media or email.

More information will pop up on our social media and the solvingscience.org website. It’s a bit empty right now, but rest assured details will be added as and when we find the time!

Typewriter with the word "Update"

Progress Update

It’s about time we gave you a quick update on the progress of the Museum. 2020 was spent doing a lot of the background stuff that makes a museum a museum. A team of excellent persons from both Museum and Science backgrounds helped us to figure out the foundations for our policies and procedures – something that I’m sure we’ll chat about in future posts. You might have noticed that we have also rejigged the old, very temporary website into a slightly cleaner, slightly less temporary website. This is to set ourselves up ready to deal with collections and to integrate the blog into the Museum as a whole.

Big Issues

Currently, a lot of our efforts are going towards setting up the Big Issues digital conference. This event, in collaboration with members of the University of Gothenburg, explores some of the challenges facing scientists today. The three sessions will take place in September and deal with topics in Sustainability, Open Science, and Mental Health. We want to explore the issues with the people that face them and researchers and professionals that have looked into their origin and their potential resolutions.

Our hope is to make a highly interactive event – with participants and attendees given plenty of opportunity to chat around the talks, to meet and greet and share ideas. To this end we are aiming to try out a whole bunch of novel ideas – digital poster sessions, 1-on-1 meetups, along with the standard schedule of lectures plus coffee breaks. We hope this will help us to spark ideas for future Museum-related events.

All of this has meant that we are now slowly getting going on the core of the museum: its exhibitions. Once we have the call for papers sent out and the infrastructure for the conference sorted, we will be able to return to the museum proper and get going on the exhibitions!

Volunteers

If you’re reading this and think “oh, this sounds like a cool project, maybe I’ll get involved?”, our response is “yes please”. Covid has had a significant impact on everyone’s ability to work on projects such as this. If you can support us, get in touch – particularly if you are interested in working on our outreach, events and social media.

What’s Next?

As mentioned above, once we have a little more time on our hands, we will return to working on the exhibitions. It is likely that the “Stuff of Science” and “Mental Health” exhibitions will take precedence, but we are now also looking into utilising additional resources (such as Google Culture) to develop informative exhibits to supplement our own custom builds.

You can also start to expect more updates on this blog as we grow – though please be kind, we are a small team and we’re doing our best!

Photograph of Neon sign that reads "Hello"

Welcome!

Hello there!

We’re happy to have you here. As you can probably tell, this blog, along with the project as a whole is currently in its infancy. We started work on the museum in the Spring of 2020, using our lockdown-induced free time to do something worthwhile. The rest of the year was a huge learning curve for all of us while we laid the foundations for the museum.

You see, we don’t just want to be another blog, or even a simple interactive science communication website. We want to be an organisation that takes as much of the good stuff from physical museums, adds on all the good stuff found in a digital space, and to use that to make something brilliant. This is, to us, what it means to be a digital museum – it’s more than just being an online educational resource. It’s also a community space, a repository of knowledge, and somewhere which can (we hope) that’s quite fun to visit.

And this all means that in order to do it right, we have to make sure we have solid foundations, which, much to our regret, has meant that we had to spend a significant amount of time drafting policy documents and doing other bits of boring admin (though in actual fact some of it is quite interesting – more on that in a future post!).

We are now reaching a point where we feel comfortable opening the project up to the world, and letting you join us on the path to launch. Our plan is to post updates on this blog with how our work is going, but we will also take this opportunity to write about the stuff we think is interesting or important. We all consider ourselves science communicators, which is a nice way of saying that we can’t shut up about science.

Things will start to kick off properly towards the end of January, 2021, so check back then (or just follow us on Social Media). For now, I wish you a happy holiday period and a 2021 that is as unlike the current one as possible.