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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

P Dee Boersma
BIOL 305
Seattle Campus

Science Communication: Video Storytelling in Biology

Students make a short film on a biological story, concept, or theory. Includes developing a storyline, getting the shots to make compelling viewing, editing, and producing a short video. Prerequisite: either BIOL 180, B BIO 180, or TESC 120. Offered: Sp.

Class description

Scientists test hypotheses and communicate their results through peer-reviewed journal articles and scientific meetings. Increasingly, scientists wish to, or must, communicate with the media and the general public. Granting agencies often expect scientists to reach out to a wider audience to demonstrate the educational and scientific value of their work to the public.

Short videos are a source of information used by both scientists and the public to gain information about scientific problems. Storytelling is a communication tool that all scientists need to understand better, and this course is designed to expose students to how to communicate scientific theories, concepts, and stories to a broad audience. The focus of the course will be on storytelling using video.

Each student will make a short video about some aspect of biology. The video will be driven by a story. Remember that a story has a beginning, middle and end and stories are most interesting when they are novel, surprising, and often humorous. You are expected to do all aspects of making a film. You will shoot the film, write script, and edit your film. You also will make a sound track, and add the sound track to your film.

Most films will focus on conservation or natural history themes. Your film should have a core concept or question that you explore. There are a number of ways to approach your story. You may find that a voyage of discovery, a “news” commentary, or the resolution of a conflict can drive your storytelling.

This course is about communicating science by storytelling using video. However, radio and podcasts are also popular mediums for storytelling. If students wish their final product to be something other than a 3 to 10 minute video for YOUTUBE, details must be worked out with the instructor before the end of the first week of class.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

There are many aspects to master so it is important that you bring some skills to the class. You should have shot some video and know how to download video to your Mac computer. Some experience with audio or using garage band software will be a benefit. We will use Final Cut Express as our editing software. You need not know this software but some experience with editing will be helpful.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by P Dee Boersma
Date: 02/17/2011