OREM – August 24, 2012 – Just over three weeks after NASA's largest and most expensive rover named Curiosity landed on Mars, NASA's Todd Barber will once again land at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival to pursue how storytelling can better excite and educate people about space exploration.
Curiosity will investigate whether Mars can or ever did support life. Barber, who helped get the rover from Earth to the Mars atmosphere, will identify storytelling techniques that will help him and his fellow engineers to better share Curiosity’s stories and other space stories in ways that engage listeners.
“Engineers usually aren’t the best at public speaking; we’re too technical and dry,” said Barber, a NASA propulsion engineer. “I come to the Festival to learn how the real masters of storytelling do it. We want to get better at sharing what we do and bring the public along so they can feel like explorers the way we do.”
Barber doesn’t come to the Festival only to improve his storytelling skills, however. He takes what he learns at the Festival and gives back to Utah communities through educational outreach—storytelling style. Barber’s Festival tour is packed. From an appearance on Good Things Utah to presenting stories about Curiosity at the Orem Public Library to visiting seven schools and more than 2,500 students (K-12 and one BYU presentation), Barber will have plenty of opportunities to incorporate storytelling techniques he’s gathered over the past two years at the Festival. One such technique that Barber now uses to tell stories is that of tension.
“I don’t want to hide the fact that there are struggles and trials along the way,” Barber said. “People root for the outcome when they see and hear about the trials and tribulations to get there. Engineers like to suppress talking about problems when speaking publicly, but when we do something new we’re going to have problems, like losing data at a critical moment. Tension is there and tension makes good storytelling.”
Barber’s Curiosity presentation at the Orem Public Library is on Wednesday, August 29, at 7 p.m. (See "NASA at Orem Public Library" PDF attachment.) The 23rd annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival runs Thursday through Saturday, August 30–September 1, 2012. The theme for this year's Festival is “My Story, Your Story, Our Story.” More than 35,000 people from around the United States will gather at Mt. Timpanogos Park in Provo Canyon and the SCERA Shell in Orem to enjoy stories as a performance art form. Nationally known and local tellers (including top junior tellers from local schools) weave tales of humor, whimsy, celebration, struggle, hope, love, and more. The Festival also features live musical performances, pottery, puppetry, and on-site dining. The Festival is the second largest storytelling festival in the nation and the largest in the West. For more information, see the Festival Web site at: http://www.timpfest.org
###Press Release fromo Timpanogos Storytelling Festival