The Fusion Science Theater National Training and Dissemination Program builds on the success of the Fusion Science Theater (FST) planning grant (DRL 07-32142). Madison Area Technical College, in collaboration with the Institute for Chemical Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the American Chemical Society (ACS) and area science centers and museums will create a national program to disseminate the FST model which directly engages children in playful, participatory, and inquiry-based science learning of chemistry and physics topics. The primary target audience is children aged 4-11, while undergraduate chemistry students, faculty, and formal and informal educators comprise the secondary professional audience. The project will result in the development of a robust, creative, and highly visible national dissemination program.
The National Training and Dissemination Program includes three deliverables. First, a Distance Performance Training Program will be developed to teach groups of undergraduate students, faculty, and educators how to perform FST Science Investigation (SI) Shows. The Training Program includes a Performance Training Package and a 3-day Performance Training Workshop. The Performance Training Package will be comprised of training videos, performances videos, scripts, rehearsal schedules, and training exercises. These materials will be pilot tested while training representatives of five groups from around the country to perform SI Shows during the Performance Training Workshop at Madison Area Technical College in summer 2012. Participants will be selected from ACS undergraduate groups, outreach specialists, and museum professionals. Workshop participants then return to their home institutions and lead their groups through the improved Performance Training Package delivered via Moodle, with support from FST team members and social networking tools. The second deliverable is the FST Methods Workshop. The Methods Workshop is designed to teach formal and informal educators to use selected methods (Investigation Question, Embedded Assessment, and Act-It-Out) in their outreach efforts and classroom teaching. Four workshops will be presented at national meetings and at the invitation of colleges, universities, and science centers. Follow-up with workshop participants will be mediated through an online forum to encourage experimentation, modification, and dissemination of a second generation of FST activities. The final project deliverable is the development and implementation of a Promotion and Recruitment Plan to connect professional audiences with FST. The Distance Performance Training Program and workshops will be evaluated using mixed methods, while embedded assessment will be utilized to measure the impact on youth participants attending SI shows to determine the overall effectiveness the Distance Performance Training.
This project is designed to have important impacts on STEM education and society. The proposed dissemination program brings innovative models and methods into the hands of informal science education practitioners who can use them to engage local audiences and enhance their own teaching and communication practices. Finally the project offers likely benefits for society through the creation and dissemination of innovative practices to combat science illiteracy, diminishing pools of scientists and engineers, lack of understanding about the nature of science, and the achievement gap that exacerbates these problems. This project could be transformative in informal science education as SI Shows use theater to engage audiences in multiple aspects of science learning. It is anticipated that this project will reach up to 2,500 individuals in public and professional audiences.