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The Story Collider

A series of science storytelling shows which take place in non-academic environments, featuring people telling true, personal stories about their experiences with science.

The Story Collider
  • School/Institute/Department: School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Subjects: Science, Storytelling
  • Audience: General Public

The Story Collider is a series of science storytelling shows which take place in theatres, clubs, art galleries, and other non-academic environments, featuring people telling true, personal stories about their experiences with science.

The Story Collider is innovative in asking people to explicitly talk about the human side of their work. Storytellers are asked not to explain scientific concepts in great detail, instead focussing on the emotional, personal side of science. This opens events up to non-scientific audiences and addresses public perceptions of researchers and scientists.

The goal of the shows across England and America is to demonstrate that science is a universal endeavour, and to humanize the process of living in a world run by science. The format allows speakers to convey an aspect of their work that is essentially impossible to find through traditional scientific means (publications, blog posts, etc.) and for the audience to learn about the people behind the research.

Each event features six storytellers, half scientists and half non-scientists. Organisers work with the storytellers to help them create a compelling narrative, building confidence and communication skills. This process means that participants get first-hand experience and training in crafting the narrative as well as performing, and as such are exposed to new ways of communicating.

The event was co-founded by Brian Wecht while living in America and was brought to England when he joined Queen Mary. Despite The Story Collider being relatively new to the country, audience numbers have reflected an interest in hearing these stories, and attendees have been from a range of backgrounds, scientific, non-scientific and science sceptical. Feedback from the audience has shown the ability for scientists speaking about their work on a more personal level to make people feel more positive towards, and even enthusiastic about, science.

The popularity of these events has enabled them to move to new cities and grow to establish a wide reach and legacy. Stories from the live shows are featured on a free weekly podcast online, with articles also available written by researchers on the personal side of their research.

For more information on the project, including upcoming dates and to listen to podcasts, visit their website. Follow this link for a podcast by Queen Mary’s Alison Hartshorn.

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