Twentieth Day

With less than 2.5 hours to go, the finale to my 20 days of intense interning at Sense About Science is rapidly approaching. It’s been a delight working with such a smart and passionate group of change-makers, and it’ll be a sad moment when the clock hits 16:00 and it’s time for me to leave.

Here’s a review of what I’ve spent my time at Sense About Science doing, and a bunch of cryptic images to go with them:

Screening Making sense of screening resource challenging me to explain the concept of screening, and its pro’s and con’s, with less than 200 words and a handful of whimsical diagrams. Looks easy, it’s really not, and working on it has provided incredibly valuable lessons on content presentation and proper communication of science ideas to the wider public. Also had the chance to email some of the UK’s top health experts to ask them to review the guide – goes to show what a big issue screening is in society and the need to be as perfect as humanly possible.
 Testing Making sense of testing resource. Similar to Screening, except in some respects even more difficult given that the topic is broader and has to challenge people’s inherent assumptions about over-the-counter/internet schemes. First draft ready.
 Radiation What is radiation? My absolute favorite project during the 4 weeks, with the chance to mess around with a silly presentation of coconuts and silly graphics to make convey serious knowledge about radiation – a very misunderstood topic in today’s world.
 Screening Screening for everyone? Inspired by one of my illustrations in Screening, this poster-sized infographic highlights the potential pitfalls of screening tests. Orange, bubbly, and people falling off the edge. First draft ready.
 AFE Ask For Evidence. Want omega-3? Eat fish or buy ordinary fish oil capsules, not extra expensive fancy ones which have more than you need.
Dissemination plan. My first project with Sense About Science during the early days of the internship, brainstorming a list of people who Sense About Science should contact to get their upcoming new resource far and wide and to the people who need them the most.
Maddox prize. Don’t really want to disclose the details of what I’ve been doing here, in case I say something I shouldn’t. Random fact: renowned Imperial academic David Nutt was the Maddox Prize recipient in 2013!

The end to 20 days this may be, it’s certainly not goodbye. I’m not done with my work at Sense About Science; over the next week I’ll be doing a bit of remote volunteering for a poster-infographic on common plant breeding techniques, and possibly a second radiation poster titled Health and radiation which explores further the effects of mobile phone use and household electronics. A commitment has also been made in volunteering at Sense About Science’s upcoming events. If there’s one thing I ought to learn from my first year at Imperial, it’s “don’t do stuff next year!”. I already broke that promise once, so let’s keep breaking it.

Today, however, is more than just the end of 20 days at Sense About Science. It marks the end of 8 full months of constant study, exams and work, and an entire year dedicated to exploring the world of NGOs, science communication and the public engagement of science. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired to the core, but I’d be even more of a liar if I claimed this past year wasn’t an absolute blast. From Imperial Hub on the mezzanine floor of the Union Building (with its strange shaking floors), to the grandeur of the Royal Albert Hall and now Sense About Science in trendy Farringdon, I’ve came to know so many wonderful people and witnessed how their efforts will help change the world in all sorts of ways. It’s been a real treat being able to contribute to their efforts, and I hope my work has or will be useful.

Tonight I’ll be on a plane heading home, equipped with 15 episodes of Radiolab and rich memories to accompany me on the hours long trip. Tomorrow I’ll be half-way around the globe, reclaiming my room chair from the territories of my fat tabby cat, as per tradition of traveling away and coming home. Sometime somewhere in the near or distant future, the things that I have learnt and skills that I have developed will become useful once more.

Many thanks to all of the Sense About Science team – Victoria, Emily, Lauren, Prateek, Max, Julia, Chris, Sile, Ian, Grace and Tracey – for letting me participate over August, and to Charity Insights for the support.

I look forward to seeing what’s next.


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