Scientists Not Science-ing As Edutainment?

Last Friday I half-jokingly suggested having an outreach event consisting of scientists playing video games on Twitch. I have several reasons why I think this would be potentially valuable. It would humanize scientists. It would remind science-types that they can and probably should have interests outside their science-thing. It might offer opportunities for educational outreach. I’m pretty sure it would be damn funny, too.

Now I kind of want to try it? I’ve asked around for video game suggestions and met with a surprising amount of enthusiasm. So below the fold is basically a massive brain-dump. 

If one were to stick to the original video game centered idea, here are some thoughts from me and my office-mate:

  • Kerbal Space Program (It’s a game about orbital mechanics. Impress your friends with Hohmann transfers!)
  • Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers (One could argue that I learned basic programming concepts from the collectible card game version back in the day. And to answer the potential question “Do you play MTGO?”: against better judgement yes, occasionally, username: fresnel)
  • Space Engine
  • Universe Sandbox (This and the previous are edutainment tools in their own right.)
  • Moonbase Alpha (It’s a game by NASA. Where you play an astronaut on the moon.)
  • Foldit (It’s a protein folding puzzle game. I don’t know any biologists…)
  • Darwinbots (Artificial-life / machine-learning game)
  • Dr. Mario (Having someone answer questions posed by a live audience while trying to not lose at Dr. Mario has hilarious written all over it.)
  • Going into something totally unprepared gets laughs on streams. No idea if sitting a scientist down in front of (e.g.) Super Meat boy with nothing but a pat on the back would be anything other than just funny.

Breaking away from the video game concept, one could speculate about doing a Tabletop / Table Flip like show, but that way lies editing and production (live streaming a table top game, love them dearly as I do, would not be fun to watch).

Timidly shuffling away from the strictly game-based formats there are potentially share-able leisure activities some scientists somewhere might like to demonstrate, e.g. music or art of some kind. I play guitar, but I’m nowhere near play-in-public territory. I’d also get a kick out of doing some kind of for-fun tech project with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, but those are getting dangerously close to things-I-do-for-work-anyway.

If you have thoughts, share them. If you do science and don’t think the idea is totally bananas and would like to participate, by all means let me know. The non-negligible number of positive reactions makes me think this may at least be a thing that is possible.


About apfergus

A coffee sipping, bike riding, (newly) ballroom dancing, cardigan sweater enthusiast, and astrophysics grad student looking at the highest energy cosmic rays.
This entry was posted in Science, Whimsy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Scientists Not Science-ing As Edutainment?

  1. Adam Bradley says:

    My homebrewing is heavily influenced by my science-ing, and I love talking about it. Outreach away!

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