NPR launches WonderScope and a call-out to video artists

A new partnership between NPR and YouTube yields a creative challenge for fans.
Written by Melanie D.G. Kaplan, Inactive

If anyone can make science cool, it’s National Public Radio, the folks who bring us WNYC’s always-captivating Radiolab.

Yesterday, NPR announced its intent to not only make science fun, but to challenge the curious and creative public to tell the stories that explain science, with its WonderScope series, though a new partnership with YouTube Direct.

“There’s a ton of people doing great video art on their own, and we thought we could do more to completely break out of the mold of doing science as boring, and make it fun and exciting,” said Keith Jenkins, NPR Multimedia senior supervising producer. “People doing video now are not just people with a lot of money or backing. It could be junior high and high school kids. We’re excited and maybe a little fearful about the types and amount of things that will come in. There are some wonderful animators out there.”

Here’s how the WonderScope Challenge works: NPR presents a topic and provides a deadline and a length for the video submission. Individuals submit video, which is reviewed by NPR editors, and the most intriguing will be featured on the NPR website and on NPR’s YouTube channel.

The first topic is “time” (e.g. what is it, how is it measured, can you stretch/slow down/stop it), told in 30 seconds to three minutes. Jenkins said the point of the series is that the story which explains the science will come from the artists’ perspectives.

“We want to create a sandbox here, with different ways of approaching science,” he said. “Let the creative mind take over and figure out the best way to do it.”

Jenkins said NPR is entering “Phase 2.0” of online video, which leverages the existing community of video users as well as its journalists. “We want to give people a place to have their work shown. We’re still one of the places where people can be seen, versus in the river of stuff moving by.”

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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