Why Family Science Events?
Kids whose parents learn alongside them gain self-confidence with their own learning. Family Science events were developed by the Adult Role Models in Science (ARMS) program as a tool to help make this happen. The events offer science activities that encourage families to get their hands on science and explore topics in an active way. Parents role model science learning, and children get to be experts, teaching their parents and peers.
Family Science events are community events, usually sponsored by a school and held on an evening or weekend. They have a friendly feel and often include a community meal for families to meet each other. You don’t have to be a scientist (or even know a scientist) to hold one—we know lots of scientists and can help you find science volunteers. There is also a detailed guide available to help you organize.
Family Science Events can:
Bridge the gap between home and school:
- Make science activities accessible to all families
- Help children and parents become confident that they can do science
- Make students and their parents aware of potential careers
Help students really connect with science:
- Show that science is not just a bunch of facts—it’s a way to figure out how the world works
- Illustrate the diversity of science and scientists, breaking down stereotypes and demonstrating that everyone is a scientist
- Highlight the relevance of science to everyday life
What Kind of Science Activities are Best?
The most effective activities are like “exploration stations”—that’s how Tom Zinnen of UW-Madison’s Biotrek thinks of them:
“The goal is to present learners of any age with a puzzle, paradox, or problem to examine, explore, experiment, or resolve. Think of each activity station as being staffed by a Puzzle-Giver, who may or may not be an expert in science, but whose chief talent is in coaching, coaxing, and cajoling a learner to explore the puzzle.”
Research shows that hands-on investigations involving process skills like questioning, problem solving, and communicating are extremely effective… and they’re fun!
- If you are planning a Family Science event and would like assistance in recruiting science volunteers to lead activities, you can submit a request, providing information about your event and needs, from this page (Gasch Lab Outreach).
- If you would like information about leading a successful family science activity, download this pdf: Plan and Lead a Science Investigation or Engineering Challenge for Families.
- If you are interested in planning a Family Science Event, download our Planning Guide.