Arkansas Science Festival. Woman behind table talking with two young participants.
Article: “How we engaged audiences in informal science education through the inaugural Arkansas Science Festival

What do we know?

  • Few science festivals are held in the rural Mississippi Delta, an economically poor region with a historically agricultural focus, little STEM industry, and some of the lowest levels of higher education in the country.
  • As part of the inaugural Arkansas Science Festival, a science-themed music group was used to attract students and families to Arkansas State University’s campus for its first Science Expo.
  • Festival organizers encountered several roadblocks: scheduling around other university-sponsored events (i.e., homecoming) provided an initial challenge while navigating university policies and procedures for marketing and fundraising posed additional challenges. Flexibility and tenacity helped organizers overcome these initial obstacles.
  • Partnering with collaborators from the local community and across the state yielded numerous draws for Expo attendees: the first science café hosted in the region, an award-winning local author and radiologic technologist presented a talk on Marie Curie, and the Arkansas Museum of Discovery arranged to bring their mobile science museum to the event
  • More than 2,000 people attended the Arkansas Science Festival. Although attendees reported a wide range of reasons for attending, the most common reason given for attending was children or grandchildren. ”I would like to attend another science festival” was the most highly rated item on the attendee survey

How do we know?

Attendees were invited to complete a brief survey about their experiences at the festival. Three different survey forms were utilized, with each designed to assess perceptions of different aspects of the event. All participants were asked why they attended the event, how they would rate the event on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = poor, 5 = excellent), and demographic items (e.g., age, race and ethnicity, and sex).

Where do we go to learn more?

Amy R. Pearce, Karen L. Yanowitz, and Anne A. Grippo. 2015. How we engaged audiences in informal science education through the inaugural Arkansas Science Festival.