env.infohackit @Plymouth 2016 – Day 1

With env.infohackit @Southampton having been such a huge success, we were ready to take on Plymouth with a brand new set of PhD environmental scientists and creatives. The env.infohackit training day took place on December 5 2016 at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. To prepare for their collaboration with creatives the following day, 23 PhD students arrived in eager anticipation of the Adobe Illustrator workshops. Here, they would learn how to use the software to clearly convey information through visuals—and that Comic Sans is not the most famous font!

Through this training, the students would acquire an idea of what it’s like to create infographics. They would then be more attuned to the skills of the creatives who would be joining them for the hack the following day. The scientists were excited to have a go at Illustrator even though it was at times challenging. However, once they got into the creative mindset, the scientists flung themselves into the exercises and came up with some brilliant designs.

env.infohackit @Plymouth was funded by NERC and sponsored by Adobe. The PhD students who joined us all came from a Marine Biology background and attended Plymouth University and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Big Fish

After a rundown of the history and cultural impact of infographics, the students really got the ball rolling when they took a shot at using the pen tool to outline blue tang fish. The students quickly got the hang of the software and the results of this exercise were incredible. Having learned the basics of typography in Illustrator, the students were even able to add text to their images, truly capturing the spirit of infographics.

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Get Cracking!

After the success of the fish drawing task, the students paused for a much-needed buffet lunch to fuel to the next activity—to create a full-blown infographic from scratch. The topics provided ranged from visualising instructions for how to perfectly boil an egg, scientific data from NERC and which contestants scored highest on The Great British Bake-Off. Going the extra mile, the students ensured that their infographics were clear and concise while accurately conveying the information. The students aced this task and were proud of their creations.

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Ready to Roll

Several coffee breaks later, the training day came to an end and the creative output was phenomenal. The scientists put their all into the tasks of the day and become equipped with brand new skills which they were keen to apply at the hack event the following day. They were excited to meet the creatives and felt ready to tackle any challenges which might arise. Tweeting and sharing their graphics using the #infohackit hashtag, the students promoted kinship between each other and nailed the collective essence of infohackit. The skills they gained on this day will come in handy at the hack event and beyond in their academic careers, where communication and outreach plays an increasingly vital role in the lives of scientists and their relationship to the public.

What was left now was for the scientists to be put into teams with creatives and designers. Their skills will be put to the test in the fast-paced hack setting which is creatively, intellectually and physically demanding. The marvellous graphics the scientists produced today will be hard to match at the event itself. We were sure the outcomes from all teams would be amazing, but only one team will win. Click below to find out what the teams made and who won.

Make sure you check out our Storify for env.infohackit @Plymouth 2016 for a full rundown of the day!

Read the full env.infohackit @Plymouth report