The Nature Nerd Network: An idea for an online community to get us all thinking scientifically and exploring the natural world

I've spent the last few days at a conference called ComSciCon. Organized by grad students for grad students passionate about communicating science. I often leave conferences inspired, but this one was enabled me to bring together a bunch of things I've been thinking over for a while, and gave me the confidence to try something new, so I did. And here it is. First I will try to outline my thinking process.

Problems that keep me up at night

  • skepticism/mistrust of science
  • memorization-based science curriculum making people not enjoy science
  • growing disconnect with nature
  • lack of access to wild/wilderness/green spaces

Existing relevant things

  • Attenborough style nature documentaries: awesome, but don't do much to show the scientific process or get people outside
  • Science channels on YouTube: many great ones, but I don't know of many that are purely nature centered
  • Science fairs, summer research expreinces etc.: awesome, but not available to every student

The Goal: Create an online community that gets kids (or anyone else) excited about exploring the world around them intentionally and experientially.

Initial Ideas:

  • Create Nature Nerding videos for YouTube that model this type of interaction with nature.
  • Show that this can be done anywhere, but also bring people to fun and exciting locations
  • Profile "Expert Nature Nerds" (i.e., other scientists I know who do cool field work)
  • Create a facebook community where nature nerds can share their experiences and get inspired.

Things that motivated me at ComSciCon

  • Hearing Jeff Lieberman describe his creative process as just doing what you love doing and not being scared to suck, over and over again.
  • Multiple conversations with attendees where I described this idea received overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging feedback.
  • Seeing so much other science communication awesomeness, and a repeated message from panelists to dream big. As in think TV show, and maybe you'll end up with a YouTube channel that inspires some people.

Obligatory self deprecating qualification: This is my first attempt at making a video. I don't know what I'm doing. But in the spirit of getting something done while you're thinking about it, this is my first attempt at a Nature Nerding video. I think next time I will try to have more of a theme, by starting with a question. I would love any and all feedback on this little video or the bigger ideas in general.