Science production Hoe?Zo! Show back in theatres thanks to grants

The Hoe?Zo! Show by earth scientist Lennart de Groot (UU) and neuroscientist Barbara Braams (VU Amsterdam) has been honoured with an ENW Communication Initiative Award. In the theatre production, young researchers answer questions from curious children live on stage. The accompanying € 10,000 cash prize money comes on top of an earlier award of € 150,000 by the NWA Science Communication programme in early November. The funding secures the next two seasons of the game show.

The project has three components: a teaching package for sixth grade, a science communication training course for PhD students and an interactive theatre show. The Hoe?Zo! Show is an initiative by Barbara Braams from the VU Amsterdam and Lennart de Groot from Utrecht University. Braams and De Groot both aim to do something fun to make science more accessible. "When we looked into science communication for children, we found the big problem: science communication is often done by researchers who want to get their message across. As a result, it is too much focused on sending. And that is the very thing we are not aiming to do with this initiative.,'' says De Groot.

''What we focus on is lowering the threshold and making science accessible,'' Braams adds. ''We want the children who come to our shows to gain a little insight into the scientific process. Not so they all choose a scientific career, but because you see resistance growing from within society. A better understanding of scientific processes can reduce that resistance."

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Hoe?Zo! Show

Recognition and Rewards

"Aside from the recognition, I''m also happy with the change these awards represent," says De Groot. "We all want to move towards an academic system of Recognition and Rewards, but unfortunately that is still happening in very small steps. We want to do our bit by giving our PhD students an education in science communication. The Hoe?Zo! Show offers young scientists the opportunity to gain science communication skills in addition to their scientific expertise; skills that are becoming increasingly important."

During the theatre show, PhD students answer live questions from the children in the audience. "To help hem with that, the PhD students get lessons in things like theatre sports, which creates very amusing situations. We all work hard on it with the whole team, which makes us an incredibly united team. We've also noticed that this concept works and we get very enthusiastic reactions. It means a lot to me that this initiative is also appreciated by other institutions in academia."

Want to find out more about the Hoe?Zo! Show? Then take a look at their website or read this article in Trouw newspaper (in Dutch).