Visitors’ attendance motivation and meaning making at a public science event

Alexandra Carver, Joanna K. Garner, Avi Kaplan, Kevin J. Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Opportunities to engage with science exist in a variety of non-formal educational contexts, but rarely have studies examined ways to leverage science interest and learning at community science events and other single-attendance occasions. This study builds on Yeager and Walton’s (2011) concept of brief, wise interventions by using open-ended prompts to explore attendees’ engagement during a solar eclipse viewing event. Written responses from 79 adults revealed multiple motivations for attendance. Further, these responses illustrated that attendees expanded their literal and metaphorical meaning making about the eclipse. We explore the utility of brief intervention prompts in the context of existing theories of informal science engagement and discuss implications for supporting and understanding visitors’ motivation and engagement at public science events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Visitor studies
  • informal education
  • public engagement
  • solar eclipse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication


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