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Ignite NCAR: Starting a conversation about science and communications

On February 7, approximately 60 staff gathered at the Mesa Lab to watch eight 5-minute presentations on forward-thinking ideas involving science communications and education. The presenters covered ground from whether the Internet is destabilizing society to how to create a mobile app. (Watch a video of the presentations.)

The event was part of Ignite, an international movement that started in Seattle in 2006. Described as a "geek event in over 100 cities worldwide," Ignite features presenters who share personal and professional passions using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, for a total of just five minutes.

Teri Eastburn (Spark) was first introduced to the concept by Alison Rockwell (EOL), who invited her to an Ignite event at last December's American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Thinking that it would be fun to give it a try, Teri registered Ignite NCAR and planned the first event.

"The format is a bit atypical, but sometimes doing things differently can make a difference," Teri says. "Our intent is to ignite synergy in conversations, potential collaborations, and new ways of viewing what we do at work each day as educators and communicators."

Presenters included:

  • Teri, who gave an overview of Ignite and why it is appropriate for NCAR
  • Marcus Stobbs (CISL) on the rise of mobile computing and building an app
  • Susan Van Gundy (NSDL) on paradata
  • Daniel Knight (CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Sciences) on educational research and evaluation
  • Zhenya Gallon (Communications) on ways social media is influencing online behavior
  • Rich Loft (CISL) on fostering critical thinking amidst today’s sea of information
  • Penny Eucker and Diana Gamboa (school principals in the Adams 12 Five Star School District) on their recipe for success in K–8 science, technology, engineering, and math
  • Matt Hirschland (Communications) on five global forces affecting NCAR and UCAR

Teri says that Spark (formerly Education & Outreach) plans on sponsoring two or three Ignite events per year.