I’ll be part of a session at the 2015 AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) conference in San Jose from Feb 12-16 2015! Details below, more info TBD on the exact date and time of our session.

Session title: Using Cartoons to Convey Science

Synopsis: Cartooning is an effective way for both professionals and amateurs to convey what they know about science. Professional cartoonists can seamlessly integrate words and images to create engaging narratives explaining scientific topics, using a consistent visual framework and rich forms of language—in speech balloons, in narration, in notation—to engage readers with drama and humor. Amateur cartoonists, including those on both sides of the classroom, can also benefit from creating visual explanations, and a glance at XKCD or Dilbert shows that you don’t have to be Picasso to participate. This panel will cover both ends of the spectrum, from the world’s leading cartoon expositor of science—who has created nine book-length cartoon guides to chemistry, genetics, statistics, and more—to a bioengineer and self-described “hack cartoonist” who uses drawing in his teaching and in conjunction with the origami-based paper cut-out microscope he has developed. Joining these practitioners to provide evidence of pedagogical effectiveness is a cognitive psychologist who has done broad research in visual communication.

Moderator: Yoram Bauman, stand-up economist

Yoram is the co-author (with Grady Klein) of three cartoon books: The 2-volume Cartoon Introduction to Economics and the new Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change.

Speaker #1: Larry Gonick, overeducated cartoonist

The Cartoon Guide to Cartooning: As the cartoonist-creator of nine book-length Cartoon Guides to scientific subjects and many magazine features, I will describe the surprising power of cartoons to clarify subjects ranging from genetics to calculus. My concerns include: abstraction, realism, and recognition; narrative, story-telling, and humor; the effect of human (and humanoid) characters; the uses and misuses of anthropomorphism; and the distillation of information, both visually and structurally.

Speaker #2: Manu Prakash, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, Stanford University

Communicating Science Via the Art of Sketching: Scientists don’t have to be professional cartoonists to think about playful visualizations as a way to engage audiences in science. I will share some of my own (amateur) cartoons and discuss the visual aspect of communicating science. My lab has just released a microscope built by folding paper (www.foldscope.com) with a goal of allowing every kid on the planet to project microscopic objects and sketch on top of it to communicate relevant information.

Speaker #3: Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology and Education, Columbia Teachers College

Visual Learning and Teaching: Do cartoons work? Considerable research says yes. Diagrams, sketches, and cartoon guides promote learning, whether produced by students or provided by instructional material. I will overview that research and present an analysis of why.