TL;DR: A science slam transforms citizen science into an entertaining competition of informing the audience about interesting scientific findings.
The stage is set, today in a science museum. The hands on science experiments have been moved out of the way to make room for 200 guests. The low cieling, sloped off to one side, gives the room a homey feeling. There is a buzz in the air. The guests have arrived and taken their seets. The attendents have to inform speculative guests that the venue has been sold out. “Come back in six months” is the answer they receive.
Back on stage, the host of the evening, André, enters to enthusiastic applause. He begins with a quick explaination of the rules, followed by passing out the scoring sheets to the audience. He then welcomes the evening’s slammers onto the stage to introduce them to the audience. The order of the four slams will be determined by a round of quartet. The quartet’s theme, female dictators. Each slammer picks a card face down and the audience decides the category. Tonight the total attributed deaths is chosen. As luck would have it, yours truley won the round thanks to card with a Gregorian female dictator with 100,000 attributed deaths \s. This meant being the evening’s opening slammer.
This is how all slams start. The slammers, one after the other, come onto stage and within 10 minutes have to present their research in an entertaining fashion. The science has to be broke down into layman’s terms with enough entertaining value to keep the audience’s attention. Some slammers use poems to enchant the audience, others take plots of popular films as a base narative while all use absurd analogies and stipulations to tickle out a laugh. It is often situational comedy, conjured up by the weird comparisons that wins their heart’s over.
In between the comedy employed by the slammers are founded scientific findings, educating the public on the research dear to their hearts. It is this unconventional matremoney, between science and comedy, that draws in crowds throughout Germany. People are intrinsicly currious, but there exists a significant hurdly of learning about the research performed by society’s scientists. The research is published in journals, in terms often requiring years of study to understand the latest break throughs. Despite scientists disseminating their research at conferences, it is directed to their fellow peers. This creates a gap between the potentially insightful findings and the general public. By breaking down research with helpful analogies and a light hearted touch bridges this gap and allows the audience to peak into the world of cutting edge science.
In the same vien, I attempt to convey the importance and inner workings of hydroponics. Put succinctly, hydroponics is a method of growing plants with a closed loop water cycle. This allows water consumption to be drastically reduced in comparison to conventional farming techniques. My slam’s protagonists are Lilli a pyromaniac and Olaf the potato. This unlikely duo tell of the potential afforded by hydroponics with dramatic misfortunes and weird comparisons.
In this sense, if the concept of a science slam has piqued your interest, checkout when one will be held in your area. If you are unfortunate enough to live in a region without science slams, enjoy some of the best on YouTube or organize your own.