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Enter the Reach Out Virtual Science Slams!
Earn up to $1450 in stipends and prizes!
Ace Your Online Science Communication Skills!

The 2021 Reach Out Science Slams have passed.

The Reach Out Virtual Science Slams are open to all students and postdocs affiliated with the National Science Foundation’s 12 Science & Technology Centers (STCs). It’s easy to enter! Submit a draft video of a 3-minute individual or team entry by March 7 and receive a $50 stipend. Be selected to appear as one of the 12-18 semifinalists in the live-streamed April runoffs and receive a $150 stipend. Win one of the May 4th Finalist spots and receive a $250 stipend. Two $1000 prizes will be awarded! But the best part is that you will receive free individualized science communication coaching all along the way, before you submit your entry and before each slam.

Watch here for our announcement of the panel of celebrity Reach Out judges!

The Prompt for the Slam: Tell a story that engages an all-ages audience in your area of research or the broader work of your STC. You could illuminate a key concept related to your area of research, communicate the significance of a challenge your STC is tackling, or show the power of interdisciplinary team science.

Be creative! You may work individually or in teams; you may use slides, props, animations, music, or dance. All entries must include a live presentation component.

Judging Criteria:

  • Content: The presentation tells a scientifically accurate and inspiring story about an area of fundamental research sponsored by an NSF Science & Technology Center.

  • Clarity: The presentation succeeds in communicating one or more key insights into the area of research and why it matters to a broad public audience including middle-school age children.

  • Creativity: The presentation draws upon elements of creativity in conception, design, writing, structure, visualization, and/or delivery in a virtual environment. These components work together to enhance rather than compete with the message.

  • Connection: The presenter (or presenting team) shares their passion, engages their audience, allows for moments of reflection, and makes the science meaningful.

  • -   Resources for Slammers
  • -   Rules and Eligibility

    You must be:

    • You must be an early-career researcher (undergraduate researcher, graduate student, or postdoctoral fellow) at least 18 years old and currently affiliated with one of the 12 NSF-funded Science & Technology Centers.
      • Center for Bright Beams (CBB)
      • Center for Cellular Construction (CCC)
      • Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB)
      • Science and Technology Center on Real-Time Functional Imaging (STROBE)
      • Biology with X-Ray Free Electron Lasers (BioXFel)
      • Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines (CBMM)
      • Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM)
      • Center for the Study of Evaluation in Action (BEACON)
      • Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)
      • Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S)
      • Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS)
      • Center for Science of Information (CSol)
    • Available to perform live online in one of the Semifinal events: April 6, 13, 20, and available to perform in the Finals on May 4. All events will take place at 7pm EDT (6pm CDT, 5 pm MDT, 4 pm PDT).

    Slam Entry Rules
    • Length: 2 – 3 minutes.
    • Competitors may work individually or in teams.
    • Competitors may use slides, props, animation, video, ASL, demonstrations, music, or movement and dance, though they are not required to do so.
    • Entries must include a live presentation component.
    • All material must be suitable for family audiences.
    • Competitors will allow the Museum to make use of their Reach Out Slam recording and associated materials for educational purposes, with appropriate credit.
    • All material must be original, or used with permission, with rights cleared for internet posting. (See Fair Use guidelines)
    • Slammers must be available (individuals or team members) for one or two Zoom coaching sessions and one or two event rehearsals between March 22 and April 2 for the Semifinals, and between April 14 and May 3rd for the Finals.
    • Competitors invited to participate in the Reach Out Science Slams must confirm their intention to participate within 48 hours of notification.
    • Competitors must sign a photo/video release which allows the Museum of Science full photo/audio/video distribution rights.
  • -   Timeline
    • Through March 1: Reach Out Workshop Sessions.
    • Through March 6: Pre-entry Slam Coaching.
    • March 7, midnight: Reach Out Slam Entries due.
    • March 15: Semi-finalists notified.
    • March 17, midnight: Deadline for semi-finalists to confirm participation.
    • March 22 - April 2: Semifinals virtual coaching sessions.
    • April 6, 13, 20 - Reach Out live streaming Semifinals events (Tuesdays, 7 pm EDT, 6 pm CDT, 5 pm MDT, 4 pm PDT). Semifinalists will participate in a dress and tech rehearsal on the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday preceding their Semifinal Slam.
    • April 14 - May 3: Finalists online coaching sessions and event rehearsals.
    • May 4 - Reach Out live streamed Finals event (7 pm EDT, 6 pm CDT, 5 pm MDT, 4 pm PDT)
  • -   Judging Process
    • Semifinalists will be chosen by a panel of science communication professionals based on how well they fulfill the competition prompt and judging criteria above.
    • Finalists will be selected by an expert panel of judges.
    • Winners will be selected by an expert panel of judges and by audience choice voting during the live-streamed Finals.
  • -   Stipends, Prizes, and Incentives
    • Eligible participants who submit qualified entries will each receive a $50 stipend. (Participants are welcome to submit multiple entries, but will only receive a single $50 stipend.)
    • Participants in the Reach Out Science Slam Semifinals and Finals will receive stipends ($150 for Semifinals; $250 for Finals) to help support further development of their entries.
    • Finalists will receive professionally packaged videos of their presentations. These will be posted on YouTube and distributed through Museum of Science and National Science Foundation social media.
    • The Audience Choice Winner of the Science Slam Finals will receive a $1,000 VISA gift card. The Judges’ Pick will also receive a $1,000 VISA gift card. Winning team entries will receive a single prize to split among team members.
  • -   FAQs
    • What is the Reach Out Science Communication Challenge?

      • The Reach Out Science Communication Challenge is a virtual science communication cultivation program designed to inspire and guide early-career researchers at the nation’s NSF Science and Technology Centers to sharpen their science communication skills and engage with public audiences. Reach Out includes a set of free online science communication training workshops and science slam competitions presented by the Museum of Science. Reach Out is jointly sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Museum of Science.

    • How do I know if I’m eligible to enter the Reach Out Science Slam?

      • To participate in Reach Out you must be an undergraduate researcher, graduate student, or postdoc associated with one of the 12 National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers. See our full Rules and Eligibility to find out more.

    • Can I attend the science communication workshops without entering the competition?

      • Yes! Even if science slams are not your thing, the Reach Out Workshops will help sharpen your science communication skills and prepare you for presentations and public engagement experiences both inside and outside of academia.

    • Are the workshops required to enter the competition?

      • Nope! But we highly recommend them.

    • How can I watch the Reach Out Science Slam events?

      • The Slam events will be livestreamed on Zoom via the Museum of Science, Boston, as well as on the Museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Please feel free to share these events with your colleagues, friends, and families. Dates and times will be announced when they are determined.

    • Can my Reach Out! Slam be a pre-recorded video?

      • No, not entirely. You may use pre-recorded elements such as videos, animations, slides, or props to support your performance, but the majority of your slam should be a live presentation that engages a live audience.

    • What should I include in my Reach Out entry video?

      • You and your enthusiasm for science! Your entry video does not have to be a polished performance, but it does need to demonstrate how you will meet the criteria listed in the prompt. Entry videos should be no more than three minutes long. If you are selected to participate in a slam, you will have plenty of time to revise and improve your entry.

    • What do you mean “include a link” to my entry video?

      • Upload your entry video to a hosting service of your choice (including but not limited to YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) and make sure to copy the link into your entry form. Double-check that the settings will allow the video to be viewed by clicking on the link.

    • Don’t see the answer you’re looking for?

  • -   Fine Print
    • Participants living and working in the US on certain types of visas may be subject to restrictions regarding prizes/stipends. Please check with the International Students/Scholars Office at your institution for more information. Your institution may also have certain restrictions, whether or not you are on a visa.
    • The Museum of Science reserves the right to modify or cancel the competition at any time for any reason, including but not limited to an insufficient number of qualified entries received.
    • The Museum of Science has the final say on any point not clearly outlined in the entry rules.
    • The decisions of the judges are final.

    Further Inquiries – reachout@mos.org

    Support provided by the National Science Foundation grant #1231319