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Sophia Tintori '09 was once scared of the idea of being a scientist.

Perhaps this is why Tintori is contributing to CreatureCast, a blog created this past summer that seeks to make science more accessible to the general public through podcasts and posts.

Recently, an animated video produced by Tintori about how squids can change their skin color rapidly on demand was featured on National Public Radio's program "Science Friday."

The episode is the first of many such podcasts featured on a blog created by Assistant Professor of Biology Casey Dunn.

Dunn said his lab group posts anything about animals the creators find "interesting, fun or beautiful." It takes a narrative approach to science communication by means of text, image, audio and video.

Tintori, a research assistant in Dunn's lab, drew all the pictures for the animated video by hand, she said. The soundtrack of the video was inspired by an interview with Alison Sweeney, a post-doctoral student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In the interview, conducted on a boat trip in June, Sweeney discussed a squid's skin color.

Tintori said she picked squid color change because it was relatively conceivable through audio and because squids appeal to many people.

Dunn said the blog is independent of the research at his lab.

"When people think of science, they are so used to what are often very boring, computer generated, cold and hard graphics," Dunn said. "We wanted to do something that was a lot more approachable, and just fun."

A noticeable disconnect exists between scientists and those outside the field, Tintori said.
The podcasts are suitable for high school teachers to use in their science classes, she said. She hopes the recordings will make science more accessible and friendlier to high school students, with "scientists light-heartedly explaining things that are really interesting in a casual way."

Dunn said all podcasts on the blog are under a Creative Commons License, designed for exactly this kind of accessibility — people are welcome to use them for any non-commercial purpose.

Tintori said she hopes to eventually get more blog contributors to build it into a useful learning resource. People can use any form of expression they think will best communicate their stories, she said.

More videos will be posted in future, Tintori said. The second episode, currently under production, she said, will introduce a type of embryonic cell.



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