Ben Wiehe - Thursday, March 26th, 2015
Interaction with a scientist or engineer is the greatest predictor of positive learning outcomes for science festival attendees. The vast majority of scientists involved in a festival say it makes them more likely to participate in other public outreach throughout the year.
Findings like these were possible because four science festivals worked together with an independent evaluator for several years (a brief summary of the findings can be found here).
Now two-dozen science festivals are joining forces for EvalFest: a five-year project to build the capacity of individual festivals to measure impact, and pool data from these many sites to uncover new learning about public science events. As EvalFest evolves the project will also experiment with various research methods, and consider how evaluation use changes when it is community-created and multisite.
EvalFest kicked off its first in-person meeting last month. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, and led by staff at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the University of California-San Francisco, and Karen Peterman Consulting.