When people get together to make knitted neurons, a crocheted coral reef or knit a foamy macrophage are they simply indulging in a personal hobby or engaging with the underlying science? There is no doubt that online and real-world communities form around hobbies: look at the Hackspaces, Stitch n Bitch and Ravelry communities for evidence. While some argue that the act of making makes us happy (Gauntlett) others (Sennett) argue that the act of making can be frustrating and time consuming which suggests that the sense of community that emerges around these different crafts is an important motivator for participation.

There appears to be an emerging trend in the science communication arena which taps into this sense of community. Crafting activities that incorporate maths and science have been adopted and co-opted by those wishing to engage the public with science. By putting the science at the heart of the crafting communities amazing pieces of work have been created and the journey of co-production has resulted in deeply personal engagement between the science and craft communities.

But what’s really going on? Is engagement happening, is the integrity of the science maintained, what motivates researchers and crafters to participate? Join in this practical session to discuss several projects where science and maths have found themselves at the heart of worldwide making phenomena. Knit a Neuron brought neuroscientists and crafters together, while The Big Knit: MS did something similar for Multiple Sclerosis. Materials will be provided, but feel free to bring along your own or just come along for the discussion.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Is the act of making an act of engagement?

Helen Featherstone   University of the West of England

Hannah Hope   British Society for Immunology

Alice Bell   Imperial College

When people get together to make knitted neurons, a crocheted coral reef or knit a foamy macrophage are they simply indulging in a personal hobby or engaging with the underlying science? There is no doubt that online and real-world communities form around hobbies: look at the Hackspaces, Stitch n Bitch and Ravelry communities for evidence. While some argue that the act of making makes us happy (Gauntlett) others (Sennett) argue that the act of making can be frustrating and time consuming which suggests that the sense of community that emerges around these different crafts is an important motivator for participation.

There appears to be an emerging trend in the science communication arena which taps into this sense of community. Crafting activities that incorporate maths and science have been adopted and co-opted by those wishing to engage the public with science. By putting the science at the heart of the crafting communities amazing pieces of work have been created and the journey of co-production has resulted in deeply personal engagement between the science and craft communities.

But what’s really going on? Is engagement happening, is the integrity of the science maintained, what motivates researchers and crafters to participate? Join in this practical session to discuss several projects where science and maths have found themselves at the heart of worldwide making phenomena. Knit a Neuron brought neuroscientists and crafters together, while The Big Knit: MS did something similar for Multiple Sclerosis. Materials will be provided, but feel free to bring along your own or just come along for the discussion.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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