Motion cards for wave watching

Mirjam writing about giveaways that also work as scicomm props for April’s scicommchall:

One of my scicomm foci is wave watching: looking at the water and trying to figure out why the waves look exactly the way they do. What caused them? The wind, ships, animals? What’s the influence of the shape of the coastline or the depth distribution? That kind of stuff.

In order to discuss these kinds of questions, it’s useful to visualize wave crests (or troughs) in pictures, so everybody is talking about the same things, which is surprisingly difficult when you look at a moving water surface.

I like to annotate pictures and create gifs for my blog (like the one below) to then be able to explain things, but I am thinking that a motion card (you know? The kind of card that shows two or more pictures depending on the angle you look at them at) might be a fun way to show a similar thing. It would be small enough to carry with me to give to people at e.g. conferences, or cheap to send to people per (snail-) mail. People might like to put it up at their pin boards at work, or have it on their desks, or even send it to other people because it’s fun. And I think it could be intriguing enough that people would follow a link to read more about what’s displayed on the card and about wave watching in general. So it would be a way to get people curious about everyday physics.

What do you think? Would it work on you?

Spinning tops as giveaways as well as scicomm tools!

Katrin tells us about a really neat scicomm giveaway for April’s #scicommchall:

“My job is the science communication of a collaborative research center called SPIN+X. Physicists, engineers and chemists are working together within SPIN+X doing research on spin phenomena.

Spin is a property of particles like electrons, neutrons or protons. Because of their spin, those particles behave like little spinning tops. So, at science events we give away little spinning tops, with which we can show and explain phenomena like precession (the staggering of a spinning tops axis) and their application in spin research, for example for developing new kinds of electronics.

Besides their usefulness for science communication, the spinning tops are nice to play with whenever your bored because not everything can be as exciting as spin research

April’s #scicommchall — designing your project’s giveaways for science communication

For April’s scicommchall, let’s think about giveaways. Many big research projects and institutions regularly spend a lot of money on things like pens, mugs, canvas bags, or even pool noodles (I kid you not, my former employer did that!), all typically branded with the institution’s or project’s logo. While many of those are certainly useful and others funny, wouldn’t it be even better if they had a science communication aspect to them, since they are already budgeted for, anyway? And even if you don’t have a budget for giveaways at the moment, wouldn’t it be fun to have a game plan in place for when you do?

So tell us:

What giveaway would you ideally like to have for your own project?

For some thoughts on how to use giveaways in science communication, check out Mirjam‘s recent blog posts on what the literature tells us about giveaways, on designing a scicomm giveaway, and on checklists & logistics to consider.