Science / Science and Communication

Marine Scientists seeking broader impacts, this post is for you. The Ocean 180 Video Challenge is accepting submissions.

We talk a lot about communicating science, changing perspectives, and increase scientific impact on this site. Today I want to let you all know about a wonderful opportunity to do all of these things– The Ocean 180 Video Challenge .

(This is a guest post by Mallory Watson and theOcean 180 team)


Publishing your research is no small feat. For some, it culminates years of work, trial and error, small victories and unexpected setbacks, and countless edits and revisions. It’s a moment to be celebrated and enjoyed.


So how would you explain that publication to someone outside of your field? Could you explain it to someone who isn’t a scientist? Do you think a middle school student could understand it? What if you only had 3 minutes?ocean180 logo


Think you could? Great! That’s exactly what the Ocean 180 Video Challenge is looking for. We’re inviting scientists to explain their recent publication to an audience of middle school students in a 3-minute video abstract. The entries which best explain the relevance, significance, and results of the research receive up to $3,000 in cash prizes. Not a bad deal.


Still, we know a lot of scientists out there are questioning if this is really something they want to or even should participate in. It’s time consuming, you may not experience in video editing, you don’t think your research would make an exciting video…there are plenty of ways to convince yourself not to. But we have a few reasons why you should maybe give it a second thought.


  1. Make a broader impact

As scientists, we want to share what we’ve learned with others, and proudly display the results of our hard work. We know the importance of getting our research “out there”, so we push for publications and present our work at conferences around the world. These allow for us to share ideas and collaborate with other researchers who have similar interests.


But what about everyone else? How do we ensure that recent (and important!) research is being shared with audiences outside of our field? classroom


Ocean 180 is a platform to share your work with a global audience. Last year’s finalists were seen by over 30,000 middle school students in 13 countries, and continue to be viewed by scientists and non-scientists alike, spreading the results and significance of 10 different publications to new audiences every day. We even had journal editors grant open access for the finalist’s publications through the end of the Challenge. How’s that for making a broader impact?


  1. Rotate perceptions of science

Science has been long overshadowed by the stereotypical images and concepts of science, of older male figures working alone in a lab, probably wearing lab coats and glasses. Although new efforts in science communication are helping to break those misconceptions, we still have a long way to go. We need scientists to lead that change, showing the public that science is at its core, a human endeavor. Our research is driven by human questions and passion. By placing yourself and personality in a 3 minute video abstract, you have the chance to show thousands of non-scientists who you are and maybe make science just a little less intimidating.


One of the biggest criticisms student judges had for the finalists in 2014 was “I wanted to see more about the scientist and their job”. Students want to know more about scientists. They want to be able to imagine themselves in that role and to have someone to look up to in the field, to point to and say “THAT’S what I want to be when I grow up”. Wouldn’t it be amazing if that was you?


  1. Build your communication skills

Science communication is important. Thankfully, the science community seems to be paying more attention to this need. Students and practicing scientists alike are looking for new ways to engage in communication, education, and outreach programs. The rise in blogs (like this one!), social media use, and public events like science cafes and panels are promising signs that science communication is a priority. But why stop there?


Explaining your research in 3 minutes is not easy (hence, the Challenge). In creating a video abstract, you’ll have to really think about the message, importance, and significance of your work. It’s a chance to hone your message and become a more effective communicator. Plus, you’ll be getting feedback from teams of science professionals, communication experts, and a few hundred thousand students. Not only do you get the chance to practice science communication, but you get a very thorough evaluation to help you become even better at sharing your science.

video challenge

So…what are you waiting for?

Video is becoming an increasingly popular way to share ideas and moments, easily captured with nothing more than the phone in our pockets. With millions of online videos being posted and shared every day, why not make sure that for every video of a cat on a vacuum cleaner, we have a video of cutting-edge science?


So grab your camera on your way into the field or the lab, take on the Challenge, and help expose new audiences to your scientific discoveries.



Entries are due December 1, 2014. Full guidelines and contest timeline can be found here. Visit for more information. Please email with questions.

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