Reaching Communities Through Cosplay: A Study in Paleontology and Pop Culture
North American Paleontological Convention
The Cosplay for Science Initiative is a science-communication project that uses cosplay, the practice of dressing up in costume as a popular fictional character, to help break down barriers between audiences and scientists, making science relatable and scientists approachable. An audience insecure about their knowledge in science may feel intimidated by the idea of speaking to a scientist, but that same audience jumps at the chance to ask questions about evolution to a Pokemon trainer, learn about extinct dire wolves from Game of Thrones characters, and discuss dinosaurs with a paleontologist from Jurassic Park. These pop culture characters and their worlds pull at an already established, deeply cherished connection in an audiencewith strong andoftenexpansive knowledge about these pop culture worlds, which can be used to show connections to paleontology and other STEM fields in our world. A key component of Cosplay for Science is exposing audiences to educational content and natural history programming in spaces not traditionally associated with learning, such as comic book conventions, social media posts, blogs, and podcasts. Through these new experiences, the initiative can better explore learning and develop best practices for informal science communication. Opening a conversation about science starting with pop culture, rather than a scientific topic that an audience perceives as too complex allows for engaging conversation with communities that might not otherwise find the opportunity to delve deep into STEM topics. The Cosplay for Science initiative sparks interest in paleontology and STEM fields by connecting science not just to an audience secure in their knowledge of science, but to any audience with access to movies, TV, and popular culture.
Barboza, M. M., Santos, G-P., Magallanes, I, Ziegler, M. J., & Lundgren, L. (2019, June) Reaching communities through cosplay: A study in paleontology and pop culture, North American Paleontological Convention, Riverside, CA