Since MozFest back in November, I, together with the other Mozilla Science Fellows and the Mozilla Science Lab team have been busy working together and ideating on ways to take each of our unique skills and use them to build projects to make science more readable, more accessible, and just more open (awesome). This has been an incredible process of project development and design facilitated by our very own Aurelia and Zannah and of course, the rest of the crew; they really know their stuff.

But even with the all the resources imaginable and the best team by my side, I found it hard to come up with a meaningful project, or rather to choose one meaningful project out of a sea of ideas that came up during my project exploration phase. My challenge for the fellowship seemed to be more related to the difficulty of choice even more so than the challenge of tackling the things breaking science. This is of course an exaggeration, but suffice it to say, I have learned a lot about how to think deeply about my skills, my gaps in knowledge, and the communities that would most benefit from my experiences and what it would mean to address these touch points in my work as a Fellow and beyond. Turns out, my fellow Fellow, Rik Smith-Unna, was also thinking about these same things.

So rather than approach the fellowship as lone wolves, Rik and I decided to team up and collaborate - each of us doing what we both know and love to do. For Rik, that is to make software and resources that enable others to do open science and for me, to communicate science. Together, we could make bigger and better projects and exchange skills and experiences in the process. But still, we were left with a list of potential projects and no solution for how to address them. Our solution: the sprints.

Sprints

The idea behind the sprints is to take all these ideas and our hunger to build these projects and focus exclusively on bringing those ideas into fruition during a set period of time (2 weeks for now) and then iterating on them.

By sprinting on an idea or project, we hope to get our ideas to a state in which others can join in to help us build the project and ideally to start using the project whether it be a tool or visualization of scientific information.

For me, the sprints are an opportunity to immerse myself in “learning through making” and help to build and facilitate science communication projects as a result.

Sprint 1: Viz Sprint

My fellowship has always been about science communication and making it easier for people to understand what’s happening in science. Essentially, my interest is about translating scientific research into more accessible media and increasing participation in sci-comm.

As a way of kickstarting the sprint season, I am working with researchers at my university who are interested in communicating their science beyond their domain and into the public. Specifically, I am working on building web features that will help to bringing these researchers’ data and analyses onto the web.

The goal is to facilitate more and better interactions between research that is happening at the university and the informed public. Furthermore it is about developing the resources around how to build such visualizations and web based communication projects such that other researchers or creatives can remix and remake these templates in ways that are relevant for them.

(I should also say that this is also a way for me to add some web development time under my belt!)

Project 1: Visualizing Urban CO2 Emissions

So it all starts today with my first project visualizaing urban CO2 emissions. I am working together with Dr. Andreas Christen at UBC’s Department of Geography/Atmospheric Science Programme to communicate the importance of cities as sources of CO2 emissions and what we can do to monitor and reduce the impact of our carbon footprint. The project will highlight the potential and innovative use of mobile CO2 sensors and also allow people to access the data that describes the CO2 emissions for the city of Vancouver, BC.

With the help of Rik and the Mozilla Science Lab, I hope to make this project an enjoyable digital experience that inspires others to begin communicating their science.

For now, so long! I’ll check back in two weeks with updates and results from the viz sprint!

-J