Summative Evaluation: Fusion Science Theater National Training and Dissemination Program

June 30th, 2015 | EVALUATION

Fusion Science Theater (FST) uses elements of playwriting to make informal science education more engaging as well as educational. FST shows incorporate an overarching scientific question that is asked and then answered by a series of participatory exercises and demonstrations. The shows also use “embedded assessment” of learning, which asks children to “vote their prediction” both before and after these activities. The FST National Training and Dissemination Program had three major goals: (1) To develop and implement a Performance Training Program to train professional audiences to perform successful FST shows in their own communities; (2) to develop and deliver workshops to teach FST methods to a wide range of teachers and informal science educators; and (3) To publicize, promote, and deliver FST shows and methods to a diverse professional audience. By all measures and from all perspectives, the project team met and surpassed these goals. Goal 1: A three-day, face-to-face Performance Training Workshop (PTW) trained six groups from around the country to perform an FST show, Will It Light?, which deals with the conductivity of solutions. Five of the groups included undergraduates; the sixth was from a science museum. After the training, five out of six of these groups gave at least three performances for children in their own communities, and these shows were highly successful in terms of enthusiastic audience engagement, improved attitudes toward science, and statistically significant learning gains. Next, in a Museum Pilot that was beyond the scope of the promised deliverable, staff at five museums and a group from one university performed FST shows using only materials adapted from the PTW, with no face-to-face or online training. In addition to Will It Light?, they performed two other FST shows and one interactive activity. Assessment revealed that these shows were as successful as the shows emanating from the in-person training. Goal 2: The project team presented 23 methods workshops around the country. These workshops targeted K-12 teachers, college faculty, and museum staff who not only learned about the methods, but also used them to design parts or all of science presentations. The workshops were enthusiastically received and earned extremely high ratings. Most importantly, 80 percent of attendees responded that they were “extremely” likely to use the methods in their own work. Goal 3: FST staff generated publicity through the 23 workshops plus at least 29 presentations at conferences and educational institutions, and they have developed two FST Show Performance Kits (involving three shows), which are now available for purchase through the Institute for Chemical Education. Kits include scripts, background, and everything needed to mount a show in addition to a Performance Training Handbook, which was adapted from the materials used in the PTW. All FST scripts that are not in a kit are available by request online. Several research articles reporting on FST methods and results are now submitted for publication or in production. In summary, grant activities have demonstrated that successful FST shows can be performed with either face-to-face or materials-based training; that FST methods can be taught in workshops and are highly valued by attendees; and that materials are now publicly available to spread the use of FST shows and methods even more broadly. Appendix includes instruments.



Team Members

Madison Area Technical College, Contributor
Joanne Cantor, Evaluator, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Funding Amount: 499993

Related URLs

Fusion Science Theater National Training and Dissemination Program


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Pre-K Children (0-5) | Scientists | Undergraduate | Graduate Students
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Chemistry | Education and learning science
Resource Type: Coding Schema | Evaluation Reports | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Scale | Summative | Survey
Environment Type: Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs | Theater Programs