Science Communication Demonstrated with Cartoon Case Studies
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August 21, 2018

Here at Envireau Water, we are known for our innovative approach, and at this year’s Summer Tea Party, we decided to do ‘something completely different’.

After being inspired by Hazel Gibson, a researcher of Science Communication at Plymouth University, along with discovering that Lauren, our summer intern had artistic talents, we came up with the concept of ‘Cartoon Case Studies’. We challenged our team to work together in small groups to produce case studies that highlight how their skills and expertise helped solve a problem for a client. They then worked with Lauren to display their case studies in a visual format…and the results were fantastic! We displayed the case studies at the Summer Tea Party, and whilst Hazel sadly wasn’t able to attend, she judged the posters from afar. Here is what she had to say:

“Firstly, I am so grateful to have been asked to judge the posters for the Client Summer Party at Envireau Water. When I first saw the work that Lauren was doing creating illustrated posters for Envireau Water during her internship, I was so excited! I have long been inspired by the work of other science illustrators such as Dr James Tuttle-Keane in the USA, but I am often aware that it is very difficult for people to make the jump into trying something new creatively, let alone to use it to talk about science. As someone who has worked in science communication and science education for most of my life I have often been faced with the statement that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who are scientifically minded, logical and factual; and people who are artistically minded, creative and visual. I think what posters like these show, supports something very different that I believe, which is that there is no such thing as artistic OR scientifically minded people. To be a scientist or engineer you MUST be creative. This is not only expressed in the design of the posters I have seen here (Lauren has done a truly fantastic job and should be commended), but also in the creative approach to finding solutions that your staff use. They are clearly not afraid to think outside of the box and try new innovative methods of communicating, which I applaud you for. Communicating science concepts can often seem dry and uninspiring, but by using posters like these you not only get across the key facts you need to, but also encourage a more informal space for discussion and data sharing. That is the true goal for any science communicator, so well done Envireau Water staff!”

The Case Studies (enlarged when clicked):

1)

Case study by:

Hazel’s comments: “A good illustration in this poster of the different positive aspects that allow teams to work together to solve a client issue that is not met merely by using a desk study only site description. Although it was difficult to work out who the perspective of the poster was from (client or intern?), I liked the emphasis that learning and teaching new skills allowed for an understanding of the site beyond a simple characterisation.”

 

2)

Case study by:

Hazel’s comments: “This poster had a very clear layout of the many ways that hydraulic models can be modified to meet a wide range of problems. The poster really used the style of communication to demonstrate how one type of model, applied with a solution focus, can be used to address several problems across a wide range of sectors. Very nice!”

 

3)

Case study by:

Hazel’s comments: Nice use of contemporary imagery here with the emojis!! Another clear demonstration of a problem with water contamination from a single case study, demonstrating how a holistic approach to monitoring design needs to be dynamic and work in partnership with the regulator.”

 

4)

Case study by:

Hazel’s comments: “I’m always a fan of a good pun and comedy can be very effective in communications, so great title! I also did like the way that the poster showed the various alternatives that can be offered to a client, but that are ultimately decided to be less suitable. I think this shows just how much goes on behind the scenes of a design decision, that we may not otherwise be aware of.”

 

5)

Case study by:

Hazel’s comments: “A good design of the poster with a nice layout that gives each person the recognition for the role they have in supporting staff to ensure that they aren’t stressed! The problem of assisting stressed co-workers is clearly defined and the factors that each support staff person brings are well identified in how they lead to success in calming the stressed co-worker! Great job, especially as this is not a traditional client based relationship example, with a slightly more complicated structure.”

 

….AND THE WINNER IS:

 

Case study byLee Clarke, Principal Hydrogeologist; Michael Underwood, Hydrologist; Rebecca Haw, Hydrologist

Hazel’s comments: “All the posters had their strengths, but this one I feel really took advantage of the communication style by proving several clear and defined examples of a single idea. This is the best way to use an illustrated poster because, by its very nature, you cannot get lots of data across, you need to rely on catching people’s eye with a single bold idea that can be followed up on in conversation (online or in person) later. The hydraulic models poster did this brilliantly, it was eye-catching with its central concept design, but also gave a variety of avenues for later discussion.”

We want to thank Hazel for firstly being our inspiration for this project, and secondly for taking the time to be involved in the judging of the posters.

Read all about our Summer Tea Party here and if you would like to find out more about our cartoon case studies, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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