New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Evaluating the Long Term Impact of Live Science Demonstrations in an Interactive Science Show

Wendy Sadler, Cardiff University (United Kingdom)


Science shows are a popular format for communicating science that are used widely across the world, yet there is little literature about the long-term impact they may have. This research investigated the short- and long-term impact of a specific science show called ‘Music to your ears’, which was written and performed throughout the UK for students aged 14-16 on behalf of the Institute of Physics. The impact is measured using the immediate reaction to the show, the number (and type) of demonstrations that were recalled long-term, and the application of any memories since seeing the show.

Quantitative and qualitative data was gathered using questionnaires immediately after the show and focus groups that were held two and a half years later. Data from the questionnaires was used to develop five science demonstration categories to describe the essence of a demonstration. The categories used in this study were; curiosity (C), human (H), analogy (A), mechanics (M) and phenomena (P). These types of demonstration were then used as a framework to discover which type had the biggest impact over a long period of time.

It was found that even after two and a half years, almost 25% of demonstrations from the show could be recalled without prompting. When prompted with verbal and visual clues, over 50% of the demos from the original show could be recalled by the group tested. In addition, around 9% of the demos were recalled in an alternative context to the show, suggesting that some cognitive processing may be happening with the most memorable elements of the show.

By showing examples of some of these types of demonstrations, this presentation will outline how we can use this research to create more engaging science presentations that have the potential for long term impact on audiences.


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[6] Burns, T. (2003). Science shows: Evaluating and maximising their effectiveness for science communication University of Newcastle, Australia. (unpublished PhD thesis)

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