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Sticking it to science

Every day, in countless classrooms across the globe, chalk-dusted science professors turn to rapidly sketched stick figure drawings to communicate scientific concepts with an economy of style. Now, linkurl:Florida Citizens for Science;http://www.flascience.org/ has celebrated the time-honored teaching method with its linkurl:Stick Science;http://www.flascience.org/sshome.html cartoon contest. Brandon Haught, communications director at the science advocacy group, conceived of the contest and to

By | June 26, 2009

Every day, in countless classrooms across the globe, chalk-dusted science professors turn to rapidly sketched stick figure drawings to communicate scientific concepts with an economy of style. Now, linkurl:Florida Citizens for Science;http://www.flascience.org/ has celebrated the time-honored teaching method with its linkurl:Stick Science;http://www.flascience.org/sshome.html cartoon contest. Brandon Haught, communications director at the science advocacy group, conceived of the contest and told __The Scientist__ that he saw it as a unique way to educate the public about science and award some prizes in the form of donated books and media materials that he'd been accumulating. "I didn't really like the idea of essay contests," Haught said.

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__Click on any slideshow image to enlarge__

Participants were asked to illustrate misconceptions about science held by the general public. Many of the 37 entries (Haught said he wasn't sure how many were submitted by scientists) dealt with evolution and the misinformation and confusion that exist among some non-scientists. That's unsurprising, said Haught. "The subject that people have the most misconceptions about is evolution." From addressing the "only a theory" argument to tackling the evolutionary advantages of altruism, the top stick drawings employed humor to communicate their messages. The winning drawing -- by Richard Korzekwa of Los Alamos, NM -- depicts a stick scientist and a stick skeptic discussing the deduction of past evolutionary events from current-day evidence. Another favorite turns to a contemplative, stick-figure Isaac Newton sitting beneath an apple tree. The juiciest of the stick apples hangs red and precipitous over his head. As Newton's thought bubble displays his ruminations, the caption at the bottom of the drawing reads, "Don't worry, Isaac. It's just a theory." Haught said that he'll hold the competition again next year, so dust off your best stick figures and get practicing. In the meantime, check out the slideshow above to see the drawings that made the top ten this year.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Lab-art-ory;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/54730/
[5th June 2008]*linkurl:Science has designs on art;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/54622/
[2nd May 2008]*linkurl:Scientists As Artists: Extending The Tools Of observation;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/9316/
[1st May 1989]
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