Publicity Club of Chicago awards Energy Slam
by Payal Marathe, Communications, Education and Public Affairs
Argonne’s “Energy Slam,” a public event featuring a friendly debate on energy issues among laboratory scientists, was awarded a “Silver Trumpet” by the Publicity Club of Chicago.
The Publicity Club’s annual Golden Trumpet Awards honor high impact communication. Energy Slam, which first took place last April, was recognized for its wide reach in engaging the public in energy research. Alex Mitchell (CEP), who took the lead in organizing the event, attended the June 4 ceremony to accept the trophy.
The goal of Energy Slam was to promote energy literacy, to educate people on different sources of renewable energy and to help the public understand Argonne’s role in the nation’s evolving energy portfolio. Four researchers gave 10 minute presentations, similar in style to Ted Talks, as part of a friendly contest to see who could give the best pitch for their energy source. Seth Darling (NST), Guenter Conzelmann (ES), J’Tia Taylor (GSS) and Jennifer Dunn (ES) represented solar, wind, nuclear and biofuels, respectively. The audience, which filled the Advanced Photon Source (APS) auditorium, voted by applause. The winner: Seth Darling for solar energy.
To generate excitement, Energy Slam diverged from the format of a traditional public lecture, instead emphasizing the aspects of competition and audience participation. A promotional video by Jim Corsolini (CEP) and Dan Harris (CEP) featured the four scientists gearing up for the contest.
We want people to understand the research we do at Argonne and how it affects their lives, but we also want them to enjoy themselves so they want to come back and learn more.
Alex Mitchell, Business Relations and Regional Outreach Specialist
The fun, interactive design of the event paid off. Not only was Energy Slam well attended, but Northern Illinois University (NIU) asked Argonne to repeat the event at NIU’s fall 2014 STEMfest. There, Cristina Negri (ES) stood in for Dunn to pitch biofuels, and Taylor won for her talk on nuclear energy. Downers Grove South High School borrowed the Energy Slam format for an Earth Day event.
The University of Chicago has also invited Energy Slam to its campus, which may take place sometime next year. Reaching multiple large audiences was an important part of what made Energy Slam a success, and a Silver Trumpet winner in the Publicity Club’s Community Relations category.
The first Energy Slam at APS drew a number of school groups and young students. The event was thus effective in educating a younger audience on essential topics in energy. “It felt like we were able to better connect with students, which is great because young people have the best chance at affecting the future,” Mitchell said.
Many other individuals in CEP also contributed to Energy Slam:
- Pat Canaday
- Pat Boley
- Meridith Bruozas
- Jacque LeBreck
- Judy Benigno
- Tracey Stancik
- Angie McKay
Energy Slam was organized as part of Argonne OutLoud, a free lecture series aimed at engaging the public in scientific research and its applications. Photos from the first Energy Slam at APS can be found here.