PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Science fair enhances motivation and interest for science
A chilean case

Luz Valeria Oppliger  

The number of science fairs and exhibitions is increasing, however there is still limited research evaluating the impact and effectiveness of these initiatives, with the principal measure of "success" based on participant numbers. This study explored the short-term impact of the "Outreach Science Fair UC" on motivation, perception and interest for science. This fair was organized between five science faculties from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and consisted in twenty nine stands presented by graduate students from different doctoral programs. High school students were invited from twenty six different educational institutions, which represent all socioeconomic ranges from the metropolitan region from Chile. A pre-test was given at the entrance of the science fair, completed by seven hundred sixteen students, and a post-test was given at the exit, completed by six hundred forty one students. ANOVAs were used for statistical analyses of pre- and post-test results. Results show that motivation, perception of complexity and interest for science increased after the experience. Most interestingly, the results suggest that interactive science fairs have a positive impact that does not depend on either gender or socioeconomic status, and thus may present a cost-effective method of science outreach.

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