BAN #53: LEGO contest for science, Kiki communicates for science

October 15, 2018 Issue #53

Subscribers help finance me so I can build my lair. I mean home office! Yes! MWUHAHAHAHAHA! I mean, regular laugh like hahahaHAHAHAMWUHAHAHAdammit


Astro Tidbit

A brief synopsis of some interesting astronomy/science news that may be too short for the blog, too long for Twitter, but just right (and cool enough to talk about) for here.

The European Space Agency has teamed up with LEGO to make a global competition for kids ages 6 – 16! The idea is to inspire and motivate them to learn about science and engineering by building robots using LEGO kits… and will also help them with team-building and social skills, too, I’d wager.  

Alexander Gerst, commander of the International Space Station, has a message about it from orbit:

Cooool. Learn more about this on the ESA Education site, and if you know someone of the right age (or an educator who works with kids) who might be interested, let ‘em know!


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Follow o’ the Letter

Someone you should follow on social media 

I’ve known Kirsten “Kiki” Sanford for a long time, ever since we were asked to be on a TV pilot trying to create a skeptical investigation team to counter all the ridiculous ghost hunters. The show never went anywhere, but Kiki and I have been friends ever since, and I’m really happy for that.

She’s a trained scientist with a PhD in neurophysiology, looking at how birds learn. Like me, she wound up doing more science communication than science, and made a career of it. She’s an excellent communicator, with a sharp sense of humor, an ability to make complex topics accessible, and an easy-going manner that makes it fun to listen to her.

[An ancient photo of Kiki Sanford and me at some meeting or another. Look how much hair I had back then!]

She’s branched out (haha! Because she studied birds! HAHA I SAY) and has done so many different things! She runs and hosts This Week in Science, a weekly hour-long video podcast that is just excellent. I was even on it once.

She has started her own video production company (!), Broader Impacts, to help science researchers, labs, and so on get their ideas out to the public.  She also runs a fabulous conference called Science Talk, where science educators get together to talk about ways to better communicate science. I went last year and had the best time! Seeing so many people all gathered because they want to talk science better was hugely motivating to me, really putting the Bernoulli Effect above my wings. If you’re in the Portland Oregon area and are a scicommer, I can’t recommend attending enough (and if you’re not in the area, find a way to get there anyway). 

Also? Kiki is just cool. She’s one of those people I look up to because she’s willing to try new things, and if something new doesn’t come along she makes it happen herself. She’s worth a follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and you can catch some of her stuff on YouTube, too.


Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI 

Monday, October 8, 2018: Another robot lands on Ryugu 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018: Hubble trouble: Busted gyro puts telescope in safe mode

Wednesday, October 10, 2018: Cassini gives us more Saturn from beyond the veil

Thursday, October 11, 2018: Craters on the Moon named for iconic Apollo 8 ‘Earthrise’ photo

Also Thursday, Oct. 11: BREAKING: Soyuz rocket failure after launch forces emergency landing; crew safe on the ground

Friday, October 12, 2018: Can moons have moons? Yes! Well, sometimes.


Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!