Science Forward: Reinventing How Undergrads Learn Science

As part of an initiative to develop scientific thinking skills, Sovev Media partnered with CUNY Advance to develop and produce a six-part documentary series that helps define what science is, and what it does…

      SITUATION      

science_forward_logo_sf_smallAs a college course, Science Forward teaches broad “science senses,” rather than focusing on specific content related to just one area of science. The CUNY team behind the course had already developed the curriculum so they approached Sovev Media with the goal of producing a series of videos that could be used in a “flipped classroom” model.

mythbustersscishowOriginally, we pitched a mash-up of a show like “Mythbusters” and YouTube’s “SciShow.” Each episode would debunk bad science, but be formulaic and punchy – perfect for online sharing.

In further discussions with our client, we realized that entertainment value needed to be balanced with course content. It was also important to include the voices of working scientists from various disciplines. Finally, the videos were meant to be modular, not sequential, so each video had to be a standalone piece.

      SOLUTION      

Over the course of the next several weeks, we narrowed down topics for each episode. The idea was to teach a core science skill through the lens of a particular field of inquiry. For example, understanding magnitude, scale and models through the lens of climate change.

flora_flatowReaching out through LinkedIn, we found Flora Lichtman, a science journalist who spent 8 years as a video producer for NPR’s Science Friday. As our host, we were able to tap into her network of contacts as well as her ability to break down tough concepts into plain, concise language.

We scheduled about 20 shoot days over the course of several months, visiting various college campuses to speak with scientists, as well as other iconic New York City locations.

As we neared post-production, we commissioned animated segments from 5 animators to vary the look and feel of each episode.

      RESULT      

From start to finish, this project took about one year to produce, shoot and edit. The videos are currently be used in about one dozen classrooms across CUNY with very positive feedback from the faculty.

For more information about this project and to watch all the episodes, visit cuny.is/scienceforward.

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Daniel T. Allen is the executive producer and founder of Sovev Media.

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