Article: “Experiential learning theory: identifying the impact of an Ocean Science Festival on family members and defining characteristics of successful activities”
What do we know?
- Science festivals are increasingly recognized as important opportunities for public engagement with science.
- Although families make up one of the largest groups of science festival attendees, most of the existing research reports findings from surveys of adults who attend science festival events. This means that we know relatively little about the lasting impacts of science festival attendance on youth.
- Although family members attend a science festival as a unit, they may experience an event very differently. For example, children who attended an annual Ocean Festival described themselves as active participants while parents characterized themselves as onlookers.
- Findings from this study underscore the importance of collecting data directly from youthful participants instead of asking someone (i.e., an adult or parent) to provide answers on their behalf. Festival attendees bring their own interests, interpretations, and experiences with them to the festival, and this in turn shapes their festival experiences.
How do we know?
To better understand why families visit festivals, Idema and Patrick collected data from families who attended an annual Ocean Festival event hosted by the US National Marine Sanctuary. Data were collected in two stages. First, attendees were administered an open-ended questionnaire at the event and asked about their interest in participating in a follow-up study. Families were contacted three months later and invited to participate in a second study that included the use of semi-structured interviews, descriptions, and drawings.
Where do we go to learn more?
Jennifer Idema & Patricia G. Patrick. 2019. Experiential learning theory: identifying the impact of an Ocean Science Festival on family members and defining characteristics of successful activities. International Journal of Science Education, Part B, 9:3, 214-232.