Video as a Tool for Science Communication

Bienvenido León

Let me tell you a short personal anecdote. Twenty-six years ago, I joined the University of Navarra (Spain) to run a small audiovisual production center called Euroview, whose main goal was to produce audiovisual materials with scientific content. One of the new team’s first initiatives was to organize a meeting of all researchers who might be interested in producing videos to raise awareness of their work. Since there were over 2,000 researchers at the University at that time, we booked a huge room in anticipation of a massive turnout. You can imagine our bitter disappointment when just two scientists turned up.

I’ve recalled that anecdote many times over the years, and I’ve had to accept that science videos were not a particularly interesting prospect at that time. Today, however, we are facing a completely different scenario. All universities and research centers now consider video production to be a highly relevant activity. It’s no wonder.

Surveys reveal that most people get their information about science and technology from TV and the Internet. In Spain, the latest survey on the social perception of science was conducted in 2018 by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and indicated that 75% of Spaniards get their information about science topics from TV, while 63% get it from the Internet. It should also be noted that videos account for more than 80% of all data on the Internet. In other words, video is an essential tool for raising public awareness of science.

But it’s not just about numbers. Images can play a key role in disseminating scientific content, since they can work as icons to illustrate concepts that might be difficult to understand in a written text. Research in this area also confirms that images are more effective than text at conveying information that can be recalled later.

I could cite even more arguments to support the importance of video as a means of communicating science. However, in my opinion, there is one fundamental reason: images convey emotions that captivate audiences and encourage people to get involved in scientific matters because these matters directly affect them. In a society marked by an overabundance of information of every kind, science needs to be able to compete on equal footing for audiences’ attention. In this context, video is as important a tool as the microscope. At the Science Museum of the University of Navarra, we have recently launched a science film festival that is specifically addressed to young people. It’s called #LabMeCrazy! and it aims to raise awareness about science by offering a refreshing, modern take on scientific knowledge. In the first edition we have received an overwhelming amount of 1,978 entries, among the eight categories of the competition. In some way, this successful experience has worked as a compensation for the disappointment of twenty-six years ago. Revenge is always served cold.

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