Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?

by Andrew Maynard on September 24, 2012

Credit: Gillian Mayman

Cross-posted from Risk Sense

“Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?” It’s the sort of question most parents have had to handle at some time – especially if you have pretentious kids who delight in telling you how pure pee is! It’s also the subject of the first post in this semester’s Mind The Science Gap – a student science-writing blog I have great fun in overseeing.

Mind The Science Gap takes ten public health graduate students and helps them hone their science communication skills in one of the toughest but most effective ways I know – by requiring them to post articles and respond to comments every week (without fail) for ten weeks. The rules are pretty simple – start with science, write about what you are interested in, in a style you want to explore, for an audience who you want to connect with; solicit and respond to comments; and repeat. For ten weeks.

Although the course is about developing translatable communication skills, the discipline of posting and responding to comments on a blog is incredibly effective at sharpening those skills, and helping develop the ability to take complex science and communicate it to a diverse audience. But the course depends heavily on readers, and people who are willing to comment on the posts and to spread the word.

So if you would like to help the next generation of science and risk communicators excel at what they do, please take the time to read their posts, tell others about them (as many people as possible!), and let them know what works, and what they could do better – more than anything, these writers are after critical comments that help them improve.

You can subscribe to Mind The Science Gap from the home page to receive daily updates of posts, or simply bookmark the site at http://mindthesciencegap.org. Or if your memory is as shot as mine, http://mtsg.org will also get you there.

Thanks for reading, responding, and supporting a great group of students!

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2 Jamie Salcedo March 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for the post Andrew. Even from a educational standpoint, I’ve had to go into detail with students in a forensic science course with how even the slightest amount of tampering of urine will drastically affect an investigation due to contamination.

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