• The official voice of STC and the tech comm community

Tech Comm and Science Combine in Alan Alda’s Annual “Flame Challenge”

150 150 James Cameron

What do technical communication, science, and M*A*S*H have in common? They’re all a part of Alan Alda’s Third Annual Flame Challenge, encouraging scientists to learn how to explain complex concepts “in ways that would interest and enlighten an 11-year-old,” according to the website.

This year’s contest question is simply, “What is color?”

No one knows better than technical communicators how to explain complex concepts in the simplest of ways—and the importance of doing so. While this context is open only to scientists, we encourage any technical communicator with a science background to enter. The contest’s definition of scientist is:

Someone who has, or is in the process of getting, a graduate degree in a science (including health sciences, engineering, and mathematics), or who is employed doing scientific work, or who is retired from doing scientific work.

The contest accepts both written answers and video answers, and will present a winner in each category; written entries must be less than 300 words and videos must be shorter than 6 minutes. All entries will be screened for accuracy by scientists and then judged by a volunteer group of fifth- and sixth-graders.

Entries are due by 1 March 2014. See the website for full rules and regulations, then start thinking. What is color?