SciBarCamb and you

by Eva Amsen

SciBarCamb will be back on April 20/21, and registration has opened (although the cheapest tickets are almost gone now) so I thought I’d explain why you might want to attend and what you can expect when you go.

If you’re in a rush, you can get the gist of it by just reading the bold text and looking at the pictures/videos.
Q. What is SciBarCamb?
A. It’s a gathering of scientists, students, publishers, technologists, educators, policy makers, and anyone else with an interest in science.
The programme is decided by the participants, making SciBarCamb an informal way to discuss a large variety of topics with people who share similar interests.
The name is an abbreviation of “SciBarCamp Cambridge”, and there have been similar events in Toronto, Palo Alto, and Vienna. To find out more about the meaning of the name, read about the etymology of SciBarCamb.

Q. Who is it for?
A. You.
Anyone who is interested in research, technology, education, publishing, policy – anything related to science – is welcome at SciBarCamb. Even a senior scientist is a lay person outside of their own specific field, and due to the broad nature of SciBarCamb, everyone is effectively equal.

Past attendees of various SciBarCamp events have included: students, artists (creative/music/performance), lab heads, publishers/editors, writers (fiction and non-fiction), postdocs, techs, techies, journalists, teachers, entrepreneurs.The current registration list for SciBarCamb 2012 includes graduate students, postdocs, programmers, science bloggers, journal editors, data enthusiasts, an animator/illustrator, and Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

The current registration list for SciBarCamb 2012 includes graduate students, postdocs, programmers, science bloggers, journal editors, data enthusiasts, an animator/illustrator, and Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

Cambridge 2011

Toronto 2008

Q. Who decides the program?
A. You.
On the evening of April 20, we will all get together, mingle, meet each other, have some drinks, and write down suggestions for the next day’s program. It helps to think about it beforehand, especially if you’re proposing a demo that needs a bit of preparation, but even that is not required. Some of the most interesting discussions have been those that were thought up on the spot, when two people met over drinks and started talking. There are plenty of available time slots, so don’t hesitate to suggest a topic.

Last year’s programme in process

Q. Who gives the talks and hosts the discussions?
A. You.

Anyone can suggest a session. Discussions are always popular; sales pitches not so much: SciBarCamb is very interactive, so don’t expect to be able to give a 30-minute talk without interruptions, but rather show what you’re doing, and open the floor to questions.

If you can bring something to show (a machine that does something, a thing you made, something pretty, or something people can touch) that would be absolutely perfect.

My personal favourite SciBarCamb sessions from the ones I’ve attended over the years, in no particular order: Quantum Mechanics for ten year olds, Mars Rovers demonstration, making a DNA molecule out of balloons, open source drug development, the role of celebrities in science communication, various discussions about the future of science and scientific publishing, and all the geeky musical performances.

But that’s just me. I’m pretty sure if you ask someone else, they would say “discussions about data sharing” or “demonstrations of new web tools” or something else. So really, anything YOU are interested in is going to be interesting to someone else, and would make a good SciBarCamb session. The only “bad” kind of SciBarCamb session would be if you pulled up the slides from the last talk you gave for work and repeated that. That’s not what SciBarCamb is for. It’s MUCH broader.

23andMe talk, Palo Alto 2009

Mars Rover demo, Toronto 2008

Q. Who organises SciBarCamb?
A. You.
Well, maybe not this particular one, but you can organise your own SciBarCamp. Two attendees of SciBarCamb 2011 later organised SciBarCamp Vienna, so the chance that you, too, will end up organising a SciBarCamp is not entirely absurd, and in fact that’s part of the concept.

This particular event is brought to you by: Eva Amsen, Michelle Brook, Taylor Burns, Maria Cruz, Dan Hagon, Jonathan Lawson, Matt Wood, Lou Woodley.

Our first confirmed sponsor is but I’ll update this later to reflect all sponsors.
You can also support us by buying a “Molecule” ticket for just £25. Aside from your regular registration benefits (participation, lunch), that ticket will get you eternal gratitude and a F1000 T-shirt.

Balloon DNA at the Eagle pub, Cambridge 2011

One of the breakout sessions in progress, Cambridge 2011

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