by Susan Vickers and Lisa Willemse
Communication, Education, and Outreach subject editors
Summer usually means short or long breaks from work, and can be a great time to get out and travel both locally and internationally. But do we ever really take a break from blogging? Heck, no – for us, summer merely opens up great new opportunities for some unusual science stories.
Almost everyone takes vacation photos, but instead of posting them to Facebook or forcing them on family members with varying levels of interest, vacation photos can be a great tool for communicating science. While you’re out and about this summer look for interesting science in the new places you’re going to, snap some photos, write about your experiences and document your journey. There are lots of opportunities to make your trip relevant to a science blog.
For example, in May Dispatches from the Field published a month-long series detailing fieldwork in remote and isolated places. The posts came from some amazing locations including the Western Ghats of India, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and Patagonia.
The DNA Barcoding blog recently shared some great projects that help travellers — whether you’re a blogger or not — explore new places they visit and share their reflections. One such project is the “Map of Life” app, which helps people investigate local wildlife, telling them what species of animals or types of plants might be in the vicinity. Bring your camera and take some shots – those photos can be shared on National Geographic’s “Great Nature Project”, as featured in another post on the blog. This citizen science initiative aims to create a snapshot of global biodiversity, and will hopefully answer some important scientific questions in the future.
Communication – and especially science communication – benefits from both words and images to accurately represent a topic. For bloggers, photos can be a great way to increase readership. Travel photos in particular can inject some fresh excitement into a blog, both for the author and reader. The Canadian Science Publishing blog recently featured advice on how to use photos in a blog, with inspiration from master photographer Ansel Adams.
If using summer as a time to relax and take some time off is more your thing, you don’t necessarily have to take a break from blogging altogether. Travel pictures can be a great way to continue a blog without having to spend a lot of time writing a post and, as blogger Lindsey Carmichael shows us, it also lets people see your lighter side.
Of course, with the sun shining our thoughts often turn to topics other than science communication. But there’s lots of advice out there to keep you on track! Talk Science To Me’s writing resolutions include minimizing distractions and using some writing tools to give yourself little rewards for keeping at it. And if the dreaded writer’s block has gotten to you, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
We thought we’d kick off the summer blogging season by including a few science-y photos of our own travels or hobbies, just to demonstrate how easy it is. Have a great summer and we look forward to seeing your vacation photos in a blog post soon!