By Ge Mengchao & Wang Caizhen
BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- China’s science and engineering students are said to be lacking in communication skills both speaking and writing.
But many of them prove to be very good communicators, especially when it comes to their special fields.
Bi Xiaotian, a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Tsinghua University, began to be known as a popular science writer a few months ago after his article became a popular online read.
In his article in response to Internet users’ amusing selection of “Top Five Terrible Drinks”, Bi compared the five soft beverages through strict chemical approaches and used numerous funny pictures and buzzwords to explain why they taste “so terrible.”
The article on Weibo, a leading microblogging service in China, was retweeted 8,900 times with 17,000 comments. This is not the first time that Bi has used the Internet to spread knowledge about hot topics in the online community.
A few years ago, he joined an online battle about whether a chemical is “low toxic” or “high toxic” on Baidu Baike, China’s Wikipedia.
Bi is one of the numerous campus fellows who have joined in the efforts of popularizing science in an era when the normal Chinese not being affluent in science literacy becomes a more serious issue to tackle in context of the present information overload.
According to statistics from the China Association for Science and Technology, only 6.2 percent of the Chinese people held basic science literacy in 2015, lagging far behind the country’s economic growth.
The low science literacy has protruded the need of effective science communication, popularizing complex subjects like cosmology, quantum physics, evolution and anatomy to the public.
Generally, members of the group of communicators are scientists, professors and journalists, with college students coming up in the wake.
Compared with professors and experts who stay in labs surrounded by bizarre test tubes, students are easy-going and down to earth in a way. As young adults and twitteratis, they understand their audiences better and are good at playing with trendy new media platforms.
In addition to Weibo, these Internet savvies like to publish scientific articles on Wechat, China’s What’s App, Zhihu, China’s Quora, and Squirrel Association, a non-governmental organization that publishes books, organizes themed events and runs an Internet service.
Also, the college students are more likely to get in touch with leading scholars and researchers who can re-check their opinions.
Driven by pure love, most of them tend to be less influenced or manipulated by vested interest behind science -- a foundation of accuracy, precision and objectivity of their articles.
Huge hunger for knowledge, with people as interested and enthusiastic about science as they have ever been, is a catalyst for promoting science communication, Bi says.