“Just sit back, relax, and enjoy a moment of distraction,” is the hook from the opening monologue of the Dr. Sydnee McElroy’s podcast Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. 

But for many scientists, distraction is exactly the challenge they need to cut through. That too is a topic Dr. McElroy was eager to tackle with the delegates of the National Youth Science Camp.

In late July, Dr. McElroy, Assistant Professor and Family Physician at Marshall Health, and Sawbones host, delivered the keynote lecture “Science Communication and Podcasting,” in which she explained how she uses her medical history podcast to entertain and educate while dispelling medical misinformation. 

“Using podcasts as a medium is relevant to today’s delegates because we are living in a time of high availability of misinformation,” Dr. McElroy explained. “People with scientific misinformation are winning the battle now because they don’t have to bother with the truth.”

She explained how she uses storytelling to tackle the unique challenge of cutting through the clutter while communicating nuanced topics in a way the general public is eager to understand. In presenting information as a relatable story she builds a relationship with her audience, which may motivate them to give a second thought to the misinformation they’re hearing elsewhere.  

“It behooves us to become savvy communicators with every format at our disposal,” Dr. McElroy elaborated. 

Delegates of the NYSCamp were exposed to creative and captivating ways to communicate their scientific discoveries and knowledge, providing inspiration for the rising generation of STEM professionals. 

“As somebody who always loved learning, and felt alone as a ‘nerdy kid,’ it’s inspiring to see the National Youth Science Camp bringing people together to nurture and celebrate their love of science,” said Dr. McElroy. “It creates the kind of environment and atmosphere for these young people’s passions to be nurtured and grown in the best ways.”

About the National Youth Science Camp: Hosted in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia since 1963, the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising leaders and provide them with opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. Typically, two delegates are selected to attend camp from each state and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the U.S. State Department, we also host international delegates. Past countries represented include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Housing, meals, transportation, and supplies are provided to participants at no cost. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now for the 3rd consecutive year, the 2022 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is an entirely virtual experience.