As Science Actioneers, you and your teammates contribute to online informal education by crafting an accessible science capsule. Your science capsule will communicate a nuanced understanding of a scientific topic while conveying a mature appreciation for the rigor that underlies the scientific process.
Who's eligible for participating in Science Action?
Science Action is open to all Princeton undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral associates. The only requirement when forming a Science Action team is that one or more of your partners is a student at Princeton-- where by "student" we mean either an undergraduate or a graduate. Thus, (a) a team of 4 undergrads, or (b) a team of 5 grads, or (c) a team of 2 undergrads, 2 grads and 1 post-doc, are all valid examples of a Science Action team. But, a team of 4 post-docs is not allowed, sorry.
Okay, what’s in a capsule?
A capsule is a short informational audio/video production-- a 3-5 minute narration that helps explain by simple engaging demonstration, acting or metaphor a specific topic in climate science, fusion physics, or principles of engineering. The more specific and detailed your topic, the better your chances of communicating a kernel of knowledge in less than 5 minutes.
And what’s a kernel of knowledge?
That’s our lingo for a finite amount of narration that your team will assemble into a clear explanation of cause and effect: how something predicted from our scientific and engineering knowledge, models something observed in the real world.
So what's the style of video? Are we making a documentary, or a dramatic reenactment?
You can tell your short science story any way you like. Want to stand in front of a blackboard and do your best version of the World's Most Awesome Professor? Want to play dress-up and reenact an historical moment or play out a discovery process? Want to interview campus faculty and take your camera into an actual research lab? These are all acceptable storytelling modes, and we want you to develop your own creative ideas for how to best explain something in under 5 minutes. If you still have any questions, ask us!
Will we get any guidance with producing our film?
You definitely will. A Writing Program faculty or other department member will guide you as a writing mentor, helping your team to keep track of your progress throughout the semester. In addition, a post-doctoral associate from a department or center associated with your disciplinary topic will guide you as a science mentor, helping your team to learn about and explain your topic, accurately.
Can I shoot a film alone, or do I have to work in a team?
You have to work in a team, no solo submissions accepted, sorry. The point of this program is to promote cooperation and show you guys how effectively you can learn from each other, so you have to work in teams of 4 to 5 students. (If there's a strong case to be made for a team of 6, we might considerate it. Nothing larger!)
I want to team-up with my friends, is that okay?
Of course that's okay! But, we'll encourage you to diversify your team, by enlisting a group of people with varied disciplinary skills. If everyone on your team is an engineering major or film studies student, you're all going to get along and understand a common pot of knowledge, and that'll make for a harder time to master new content outside of your common group expertise-- such as learning about a selected topic, or developing your narrative, or shooting your film.
So what's a good mix for my team?
A good mix in a team will have some members with a more science-y background, and some members with a more artsy background. This will help you divide the many tasks of shooting your SA film according to each individual's strengths. (Eg., Andrea and Vinod figure out the science explanation, Hafiz and Chong handle the camera lighting and sound, Sean does the editing...)
How can I meet other like-minded people interested in my topic?
Check out our Facebook page and Like us, and we'll send out some introductions to get you to meet other Princeton students, interested in your topic. It's easy! We'll also help you find partners at the Kick-Off Meeting.
Is it okay to show up to the Kick-Off Meeting without a team, or an incomplete team?
Absolutely! The Kick-Off Meeting is our "icebreaker" event-- it's where we meet each other for the first time, and get to ask questions about the film topics and details regarding how to shoot and edit film, etc.
What kind of workshops will help train us to shoot film?
We'll be having two types of workshops, during the semester: closed workshops for the SA teams awarded funding support (see below for details) and open workshops for anyone interested to come and learn how to work with film, lighting, sound, and editing.
Who can help us learn more about the science behind our topic?
Your mentor will help guide you with contacting a research group here at Princeton and enlisting the help of a post-doctoral associate who agrees to meet with you and explain to you some of the background material for your topic. This same post-doc will also take a look at your finished video and vett it for its scientific accuracy.
I've formed my team, what now?
Now you need to prepare a brief "white paper" (250 words), describing what topic your team has selected, what you will explain about it, and how you intend to access the information or production props for making this video. If your white paper is accepted, your team's video production will be supported by SA.
So we get funding support for filming this video?
All teams with accepted white papers will be supported with production funds, not to exceed $600. These funds can be applied towards camera / lighting / sound equipment rental and purchase of relevant production props. These funds don't cover your hours of work, or any food expenses!
How do we keep track of our production expense and progress?
All teams with accepted white papers will be asked to produce a budget and a timeline chart for production of their video. You'll be expected to adhere strictly to this commitment, no exceptions!
My white paper got rejected, but my team and I are really psyched about doing this SA video. Can we still submit it?
Yes you can. We don't want to discourage your enthusiasm! If you aren't supported by the program, you can still chose to attend some of our open workshops to learn storyboarding, filming and editing, and make arrangements to acquire a camera to shoot your film. (You can even shoot your film on your smartphone!) Provided your video presents accurate scientific facts and claims, we'll post your video to our website, and even have it considered as a candidate in a popular online vote (see below for details). However, your video won't be considered by our judges as a formal entry in the SA1 Video Awards.
Will we get any "professional" feedback?
You bet you will. Shortly after Spring Break, we'll invite two professional journalists to review your raw film footage and offer their expert feedback on both the narrative and technical content of your production. (Note: this feedback is only available for supported SA videos.)
So my team's video will get posted to the Science Action website? When?
Your videos will be posted to a Science Action Youtube channel just before the Awards Ceremony, and you and your friend can cast a vote for your favorite video via our Facebook page.
What’s the Awards Ceremony about?
During Reading Period (Spring '13), we have the SA1 Video Awards, where all the supported videos will be shown on a big screen in a campus auditorium, and a panel of expert judges will give out prizes to the two videos that best communicate a topic our selected themes of Climate Science, Fusion Physics, and Engineering Principles.
A 1st place prize of $1,000 and a 2nd place prize of $500 will be awarded to the two videos that best merge scientific accuracy with an accessible description. Please note that this prize money will be distributed equally amongst the members of the prize-winning SA team. A special disciplinary recognition will be given, as well. Finally, online viewers will be polled for their vote on the most popular video.
What becomes of our video?
All produced videos (both supported and unsupported) will be maintained on the Science Action Youtube channel website, becoming part of Princeton's growing library of online information eduction.