After three years in development, Saint Mary’s University piloted a student-led science blog dedicated to exploring topics in the sciences in an approachable, easy-to-read way.
The blog, MindBlown, is the product of the Director of Writing Services, Dr. Peggy Johnson’s, imagination and her collaboration with the science department, specifically with the Dean of Sciences and Health Professions, Dr. Todd Reinhart.
With MindBlown, students studying all areas of science have the opportunity to take the knowledge they gain from academic experiences and present it to audiences who might not share the same background.
According to Dr. Johnson, this idea is still relatively new. “I wanted to pilot such a program for the sciences because science writing is a 21st century skill for science majors, and there isn’t space in the curriculum to implement instruction for this type of writing,” said Dr. Johnson. “I believed it was essential to find a way to teach students how to remix science knowledge in a more accessible way for a lay audience. MindBlown requires the team of student writers to reimagine formal information in an informal way. And that’s incredibly difficult to do.”
MindBlown offers students a chance to write for a public audience and use their passions to create something that contributes to the greater good for Saint Mary’s, which Dr. Johnson says connects with the university’s Lasallian mission.
Dr. Reinhart explained how MindBlown is also helping incorporate the sciences into the campus community more. “Amongst our goals at the outset was providing a platform for students to get additional opportunities to write,” said Dr. Reinhart. “Another was to contribute to the sense of community in the sciences, and on the campus more broadly, in a fun and informative way.”
Dr. Johnson explained that the support from Dr. Reinhart and the five departments covered in the blog (biology, chemistry, math, physics, and psychology) was also instrumental in getting this unique initiative off the ground.
“This is our own brainchild, and it took much research, creativity, innovation, time, and energy to develop,” said Dr. Johnson.
There are five students who currently contribute to the blog. Meagan Campbell is the lead on MindBlown and Stephen Fishbune, Paul Stewart, Aly Johnson, and Dorothy Kirsch make up the rest of the team.
“What they’ve created is outstanding,” Dr. Johnson said. “Their work truly blows my mind.”