Web Series 'Science Around Cincy' Documents the Work of Queen City Ecologists, Conservationists, Engineers and Beyond

Think "Bill Nye the Science Guy" with a Cincinnati twist.

click to enlarge Chris Anderson with Dr. Brenda Hunda, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Cincinnati Museum Center, looking at a fossilized trilobite, an ancient crustacean species that resemble modern-day horseshoe crabs. - Courtesy of Science Around Cincy
Courtesy of Science Around Cincy
Chris Anderson with Dr. Brenda Hunda, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Cincinnati Museum Center, looking at a fossilized trilobite, an ancient crustacean species that resemble modern-day horseshoe crabs.
In the first episode of Science Around Cincy — a new web series hosted by local educator Chris Anderson and featuring Queen City scientists — a frog sits perched atop a hand, its ribbit opening the scene.

“My dad would tell me to kiss it,” Anderson blurts in the background, just before a cartoonish theme song intros the nearly 9-minute YouTube video. 

Released on Oct. 7, the video is the first of eight that will dive into various science and environmental topics, each carrying an educational, easily digestible and fun tone. Think Bill Nye the Science Guy with a Cincy twist. In this particular video, Anderson takes the viewer to the research lab of Dr. Clara do Amaral, an assistant professor of biology at Mount St. Joseph University who specializes in frog cryobiology — aka how frogs have adapted to freeze solid through the winter. 

Freezing frogs aside, Science Around Cincy covers a breadth of diverse topics by diving into the work of an array of scientists; those featured include Dr. Terri Roth, director for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW); Cory Christopher, Cincinnati Nature Center's director of the Center for Conservation; and Dr. Maria Espinola, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Psychiatry. Anderson says that he plans to release a video roughly every Tuesday morning in October, rolling through November. 

The series is an idea Anderson has been stewing on for about two years. It can be seen as an extension of Science Over Everything, an educational blog he founded in 2015 that provides classroom resources to teachers and delves into current science-related topics. 

“Science is what gets me up in the morning, not just learning about science but teaching people about science, specifically kids,” Anderson says when asked what inspired him to start the series. “I was a classroom teacher for a while, and that was one way of doing that. And so, for me, this is just another iteration of teaching kids why learning about science is really cool and exciting.”

His initial idea became a reality when he met John Gibson, an Electronic Media & Broadcasting lecturer at Northern Kentucky University. Gibson became co-producer and co-editor of the project, with NKU EMB students Michael Pikar and Jordan Bardgett directing the short docuseries and Kerry Stephens on sound. (Pikar also assisted with editing.) 

At the time of our interview, Anderson said the first season was mostly finished, aside from a few finishing touches. And the team is already looking ahead to a tentative season two, with hopes of being able to produce 10 to 12 episodes. 

“I want people to watch it, be entertained and learn something,” Anderson says. “It’d be a real buzzkill if we made this — and it was good — but no one knew about it.” 

He adds that it’s “super” local, which he hopes adds to its appeal. 

“In science, we hear about these different projects happening at, like, CERN or NASA,” Anderson says. “They’re far away places that seem unattainable and they’re done by really smart people lightyears ahead in intelligence. That’s not necessarily true. Scientists are regular people with an insatiable curiosity — a real drive to learn stuff. It's a lot more tangible than I think people realize." 

Essentially, that's the core of Science Around Cincy: Sharing the work of local scientists and, at the same time, making science accessible to the greater public. 

If you want to check out the series for yourself, blast over to sciaroundcincy.com

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