Experiential learning theory: identifying the impact of an Ocean Science Festival on family members and defining characteristics of successful activities

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International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement



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active learning, child learning, experiential learning theory, families, Family learning, science festival


© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Despite the growing popularity and frequency of science festivals in the United States (US), the body of science festival research is limited. Using the lens of experiential learning theory, we examined the lasting impacts of science festivals on individual family members’ perspectives of the experience, and the similarities and differences in parent and children perspectives. The participants were 175 visitors and five families (7 children, 6 adults), who attended a science-themed festival. On the day of the event, 175 participants completed a questionnaire. Three months later individual family members participated in a drawing, drawing description, and interview. The results indicate that children described themselves as active participants, while parents portrayed themselves as onlookers. Families attended the event as a unit, but the experiences individuals described were dissimilar. The findings have implications for researchers and practitioners who design science festival programs. A discussion of seven characteristics of successful activities are included.

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