Outwit the Virus! Humorous COVID-19 clips created by CPAS student Eliza Martin now in all ACT schools
The series “Healthy Humour” – five humorous COVID-19 information clips created by science communication student Eliza Martin – has been shared with all ACT schools. Eliza’s witty icon-based video campaign informs children, parents, educators and carers about COVID hygiene and best pandemic behaviour using funny analogies, for example when comparing viruses to villains in pop culture.
Eliza’s project emerged from her interest in public communication and the new ANU course on “Science and Humour” offered by the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science since 2021. Humour is one of the most powerful tools in communication and it also shapes our cultural ideas of sciences. Therefore, the course explores questions such as:
How can we understand the public image of science through humour? What can we learn from comic scientists and clowns about science? To what extent have comic cultural narratives about science influenced the public discourse and understanding of science, and thus our science-society relationship? How can we use humour – and what kind of humour – in and for science communication?
In “Science and Humour”, students investigate how to communicate academic knowledge and research more effectively through humour – while also gaining more awareness of good practice and responsible, versatile use of nuanced humour in different situations and with different audiences. As part of the course, students work on their own projects, for example investigating the scholarly and socio-cultural dynamics surrounding humour and science, exploring the connections between science, comedy and popular culture, or evaluating the effectiveness of humorous communication efforts in science contexts; and creative projects are strongly encouraged.
Annoyed by the misinformation around COVID in the media and enthusiastic to tackle this topical issue in her project, Eliza put her own spin on COVID awareness and education. “I had realised”, she says, “that there was a lot of misinformation out there, and I learnt during the course that a lot of people learn very effectively through humour, so I decided to stick with that idea!” Regularly discussing scientific questions with her grandparents and responding with analogies to aspects of their everyday lives, Eliza created her humorous animation-style video series using icons because: “Icons are simple to use, and I found it quite fun to create my own to fit with my message!”
Eliza’s creative approach to using humour to promote and enhance science-based understanding and social engagement with COVID is not only a stunning expression of creative science communication, but also turns cultural ideas of science into a delightful public good.
Congratulations on an incredibly original and impactful student project!