Held for the first time on March 16, 2016, on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campus, Science Slams is a new signature activity for the Nebraska MRSEC education and outreach program, and a first-of-its-kind event in the United States. The goal of Science Slams is to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to widen their focus beyond the results of their immediate research, making these results understandable and meaningful to a broad audience in a concise and engaging way. The varied academic backgrounds of the speakers and audience members forced the speakers, or slammers, to discuss their work in ways that would communicate the excitement of their research to a diverse audience. The audience had an all-important role to play in deciding the outcome of the Slam, with their votes determining the winner, who received a cash prize.
As a novel form of science communication, Science Slams provide a platform for students to develop new communication strategies while also breaking down barriers among scientific disciplines. Nebraska MRSEC is taking the lead in efforts to further grow Science Slams into a nationwide phenomenon. This event has already attracted national attention, including an article in Popular Science, which can be found at http://www.popsci.com/science-slams-could-be-future-communicating-research. More details can be found at http://mrsec.unl.edu/science-slam, and videos of all the finalists’ presentations are available on the YouTube channel.