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Antonia Banyard Guest Post: So, a writer walks into a room full of physicists…

By Annick Staff Date: January 16, 2018


(back row, l-r) Don Lincoln, Noah Baker, and me; (front row, l-r) Catherine O’Riordan, COO and Interim Co-CEO of AIP, and Paula Ayer.

From January 6-9, physics teachers from across the United States gathered in San Diego to share ideas and hear from leaders in their field. And for some strange reason, I was there too, along with my co-author Paula Ayer. How did we get there?


I have never thought of myself as a scientist. I’ve written poetry, a novel, adventure stories for middle readers, and recently, two infographic books. Then the American Institute of Physics awarded our book, Water Wow! An Infographic Exploration, the 2017 Science Communication Award. What? Really?!

So there I was, on a panel with Paula and two other distinguished science writers (real science writers), science journalist Noah Baker and particle physicist Don Lincoln. We faced a room of physics teachers who want to break into the field of science communication.

The audience knew a lot more about leptons and string theory than I ever will. What could I tell them? I decided to talk about the communication, which is something I do know. I try to bring the same open-minded enquiry to every topic, whether it’s art, the human experience, or astrophysics.

In the end, we could all agree on a few things. A writer needs to know their audience (how true for children’s books!), that writing should make connections the reader can relate to, that humor is a valuable tool, and the power of narrative can’t be underestimated.

This award has been a huge (and unexpected) honor. Water Wow! is certainly in good company. It is the third Annick book that has won the AIP Science Communication Award, after Kaboom! (Gillian Richardson, 2010) and The Great Number Rumble (Gillian O’Reilly and Cora Lee, 2009).

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