Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Museums and Science Fairs: a case study

As promised, I thought I would offer a case study in this thread. I recently discovered that one of our clients, the Fort Collins Discovery Museum (back then, they were the Discovery Science Center) stepped in to rescue the Poudre School District science fair when it was about to be slashed from the budgets. That was 17 years ago.

With the local schools, the Museum now organizes, produces, and hosts the annual fair, using only their staff and resources. According to Jason Wolvington, Associate Director, they  focus the science fair on “celebrating participation vs. winning”.

Fair co-hosting has ideal mission alignment need for collaborative efforts. It’s a meshing of community & museum by doing the following:
  • it's keeping science fairs alive in their region
  • reinforcing the relationship between formal and informal education.
  • it's elevating the student's efforts by hosting it at a "special place" other than the school
  • it's reinforcing family connections between the Museum and the public
  • it’s building a future museum-going audience
This takes a lot of effort and some resources on the part of the Museum, but as both a community service and strategic opportunity it’s hard to poke holes in this logic. 

Just another reason why it's a great match for Museums to be at the National Science Fair table.

Photo courtesty of the Fort Collins Discovery Museum.

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