1887

Abstract

This study uses integrated art and science events to explore a blended approach in improving public understanding of current scientific topics and widening participation within the local community. The events were a Halloween-inspired microbiology-themed series of interactive exhibitions hosted within a national museum as part of an existing series of adult education evenings. A representative sample of 102 mixed methods exit questionnaires, based on determining (i) audience diversity and (ii) understanding of scientific topics, were analysed by qualitative and quantitative approaches, and a post-attendance focus group was carried out to determine longer term impact of the event. Participants were grouped as 'Science', 'Arts', 'Both' or 'Neither', according to their past experience and engagement. These events welcomed more participants from the Arts and Neither subsections hence engaging a group of people who would not usually visit science public engagement events or comparative events hosted in traditional academic settings, highlighting the importance of venue choice in reaching new audiences and widening participation. An increase in perceived understanding of science was observed by all groups of participants with reported enjoyment focused around the science talks, presentations and blended art-science activities. A putative impact in science capital is observed with participants reporting an increased likelihood of attending science events in the future. Furthermore, increased discussion and awareness of science in society is evidenced by participants. Blended art and microbiology exhibitions enhance the accessibly of science public engagement events and is likely to increase science capital; the impact of this on cognitive polyphasia is also discussed.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Microbiology Society
    • Principle Award Recipient: KirstieM. Rawson
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License. The Microbiology Society waived the open access fees for this article.
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2021-05-05
2022-01-24
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