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Go Where the People Are: Science In Vivo


Leave home behind.

Get out there and mix some science into real life. It’s…

Science In Vivo!

In early 2018 the Science Festival Alliance publicly launched Science In Vivo,* a multi-year project focusing on science experiences that “go where the people are.”

This toolkit is a home base for the project. We’ll be updating the resources here along the way, so please return to this page from time to time, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us @ScienceFests.


New Rolling Applications Deadline: Until all spots or filled, or November 26, 2018

Ready to try something new?

As of September, 2018, there are 9 spots left for Science In Vivo Experimental Sites. Use the application posted in the resources section below to propose a new site at any time before November 26. You’ll hear from us in two weeks from receipt of the application.

We are asking for you to try something new, so you don’t need to know every detail to apply.

There are two basic types of support being offered for the Science In Vivo project:

  • Experimental Sites (18 total): a base award of $5,000 for trying a new way of integrating a science experience into an existing cultural gathering.
  • Digging Deeper Sites (6 total): a base award of $10,000 for building on work you are already doing that reaches people where they are.

Awardees will also gain a supportive network, see their work profiled for other professionals, and may receive additional funding from a supplementary pool totaling $60,000.

Note that this rolling application is for Experimental Sites only. If you are interested in proposing a Digging Deeper Site, please contact the Science Festival Alliance contact the Science Festival Alliance to discuss your plans.


What is the Science In Vivo project looking for in applications?

One main goal of the project is to explore new ways of engaging with audiences by going where they already are.

It is important that applications reflect the potential to deliver high-quality science experiences for relatively large numbers of people. However, successful applications must also make it clear that the work planned presents a chance to learn more about what is possible.

*Additional advice after reviewing applications for the first call for applications. Students in school or taking part in pre-arranged programs are not the target for this project. Science In Vivo is looking for the “integration of science experiences into existing cultural gatherings.” By “integration” we mean that activity should be worked as seamlessly as possible into the audience experience. A focus on “existing cultural gatherings” means that proposed activity should not require audiences to have to plan far ahead to participate.

We are especially interested in proposals that will require adaptation and flexibility on the part of the presenting organizations as they strive to connect with audiences in settings where those audiences are most comfortable. The most common reason for not immediately accepting Experimental Site applications was that the proposed activity was deemed “too safe” for the proposing team, meaning that the application wasn’t demonstrating an eagerness on the part of the proposing team to take risks, alter practices, or significantly adapt to connect in a new way with a new audience. The most common reason for not immediately accepting Digging Deeper Site applications was that the proposed activity was too focused on an end product (activity, intervention, resource, etc.) that was deemed to lack any audience input. Digging Deeper Site applications should be clear about the process that the applying team will follow to create mechanisms for audience input, or even co-creation, that allow for the creation of products that flow from a deeper relationship between the proposing team and the audiences engaged.


Experimental Sites:

Applications should seek to integrate science experiences into existing gatherings in ways that are new, experimental, and possibly even challenging for the team applying.

We recognize that educational content delivery may not be the main goal of proposed activity, and encourage applicants to be open-minded as to what constitutes a “science experience.”

We are eager to receive applications for activities that integrate seamlessly into cultural gatherings, which will require you to rethink what you normally do. But we’re also realistic about how much can be created from scratch for a $5,000 base award.

We don’t want to restrict creativity by setting too many parameters. In short, we’re looking for you to try something outside the ordinary (even if you’ve wished you could try it for years) and help us document your efforts well enough that other professionals can learn from your experiment.

Digging Deeper Sites:

Applications should seek to build upon–and go beyond–a team’s previous efforts to deliver science experiences by going where the people are.

This is for you if you’ve been thinking that there’s something your team does that could be taken to the next level, if only you had a bit of time and some resources to focus.

“Digging deeper” can be taken many ways. Maybe it’s about building deeper relationships within a target audience. Or finding a way to keep people engaged past the quick hit of your activity. Or getting the adults more involved than the kids. Or creating a resource anyone in your community can use. Or creating an activity that’s deeply embedded in a specific cultural gathering. Or…

The outcome you aim for is likely to be highly specific to your current situation, so we are likely to be more interested in the process you plan to follow for “digging deeper” than in the type of product that results.














The success of Science In Vivo rests on a set of intriguing and thought-provoking experiments in the field. But another main goal of the project is to push the boundaries a bit when it comes to how professionals talk about and share their work. Some awardees will be asked to host pairs of observing professionals, participate in recorded interviews, or present at regional conferences (all costs covered by the project). While we will publicly celebrate the project’s successes, we also intend to be uncommonly frank about its failures, limits, and shortcomings. We are looking for applications from teams that are ready to be self-reflective about their work, and are eager to add honest voices to a larger professional conversation.


Before you go, please do these two things:

  1. Consider listening to the brief Science Event Spotlights posted in the resources below.
  2. Find dozens of directly relevant examples in the separate toolkit created for the Just Add Science project.


*What’s with the Latin?

“In vivo” conditions are distinguished from those that might exist only in the laboratory. In vivo experiments are conducted in nature, in real life. The Science In Vivo project is about seeing what happens when we mix some science in as people go about their lives. Science In Vivo conditions are live, in-person, social, away from the laboratory, and involve a lively integration of science with other cultural forms.

From “Just Add Science” to “Science In Vivo,” we’ve found it can be awkward to talk about this whole business of “going where the people are.” Many people and organizations are doing it, one way or another, but there is no common, quick language around this kind of work. In 2017 we sent out a short survey to see if there was consensus around certain terms. There wasn’t. We hope we’ll all be working on that together as we go forward, and appreciate your thoughts.


Thank you Science Sandbox

The Science In Vivo project is supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. See this recent article about Science Sandbox’s support for the Just Add Science project.


Toolkit Resources


2018 Fall Science In Vivo Rolling Application

As of September, 2018, the Science Festival Alliance is accepting applications for Experimental Sites on a rolling basis. Use this application at any ...


Science In Vivo: Answers to questions from prospective applicants

As Science Festival Alliance staff receive questions related to the Science In Vivo Call for Applications, we will post our replies here.   Q: ...


Science Events Spotlight #2

  In the summer of 2015, I visited the Arlee Celebration where spectrUM at the University of Montana had a science learning tent. It was one o...


Science Events Spotlight #3

If you've never organized a live public science event we want to encourage you to get out to a few and see how it goes. Or you can take a few minutes ...


Science Events Spotlight #4

Just Add Science talks a lot about the power of 'just showing up'. That it's important to create a sense of presence in a community by BEING present. ...