PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


An explosive impact
How do science shows influence teenage audiences?

Shanii PhillipsUniversity of Western Australia. Australia


  • Ann GrandUniversity of Western Australia   United Kingdom
  • Miriam SullivanCurtin University   Australia
Science shows use the medium of theatre to communicate a science message, and are commonly performed in museums and science centres. We investigated the impact of science shows on high school students’ science study and career decisions, and compared the perceptions of teenage audiences with the strategies used by science show presenters. A mixed-methods approach was used: students completed pre- and post-show surveys and follow-up focus group, while semi-structured interviews were conducted with presenters. After watching a single science show, there was a significant increase in students’ motivation and confidence studying science. The most influential demonstrations were dramatic, and students valued relevant links between the demonstrations and the real world. Science presenters’ strategies generally aligned with what students enjoyed during the shows. Interestingly, there were noticeable differences in responses were found between presenters from different departments of the same organisation and presenters from a previous study conducted by Wendy Sadler (2004). This study has found evidence for the value of presenting science shows for teenage audiences and highlighted several opportunities for future research.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Category: Visual presentation
Theme: Time