Developing a Methodological Tool to Analyze and Evaluate the Design of Science Festival Activities: Theoretical considerations and practical implications

Author: Elpiniki Pappa – Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education, University of Patras, Greece


  • Dimitrios Koliopoulos – Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education, University of Patras, Greece

During the last decade, science festivals (SF) have been widely used as a science communication approach to bring public into direct contact with scientists and to present current scientific topics. Among the variety of activities taking place in SF, the most prominent are the interactive exhibitions, where audiences- including pupils, adults, families, and others- can interact with STEM professionals and ask questions directly to scientists.

Besides the popularity of such activities, there is no clear theoretical and methodological background to define their design and evaluation. The activities presented in SF interactive exhibitions target mainly school population, and therefore use principles that characterize both science popularization and science education field. Moreover, a SF interactive exhibition presents similarities to the exhibition of a science museum or center.

In this paper, we proposed that in order to design and evaluate the activities taking place in a SF interactive exhibition, it is required the implication of three theoretical fields: a) science communication, b) science museology and c) didactics of natural sciences. Considering the similarities presented between the interactive exhibition of a science festival and a science museum exhibition, we used the “Science Mediation Framework”, proposed by Guichard and Martinand, to analyze and asses the design process of SF interactive exhibition activities. According to this model, during science museum exhibition, the scientific knowledge and scientific objects are transformed into (a) scientific content, (b) media device, and (c) media staging.

Furthermore, based on this theoretical approach we created a semi-structured interview that can be used as a suitable methodological tool to analyse and evaluate the design process of activities presented in a SF interactive exhibition environment. Finally, we discussed the contribution that this approach may have on the improvement of the way that scientific knowledge is communicated and presented in a SF interactive exhibition setting.

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Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Transformation