What initially took shape as an Interfaces of Global Change (IGC) Capstone project has since evolved into a unique manuscript collaboration. The "Flip the Fair"  project leaders have expanded their impact well beyond their original science outreach program with the recent publication of a peer-reviewed manuscript that provides tips and resources to help others replicate this program.

Flipped Science Fairs are typically orchestrated by professional educators or outreach experts. However, in their recent paper, IGC Fellows Abigail Lewis, Grace O'Malley, Amanda Hensley, Carla López Lloreda, and Emma Bueren, along with co-authors Gates Palissery and Claudia Perez, present a model for a walk-in Flipped Science Fair that is organized and led by graduate students.

Group Shot of Flip the Fair Planners
Flip the Fair organizers, from left to right: Heather Wander, Emma Bueren, Carla López Lloreda, Amanda Hensley, Claudia Perez, Abby Lewis, Grace O’Malley and Sophie Drew with Gates Palissery (inset).


The open-access manuscript was published in the Journal of STEM Outreach (JSO) in October. To support this publication, the group received funding from the Virginia Tech Open Access Subvention fund, which provides Virginia Tech graduate students and faculty with support for open access publication fees.

The "Flip the Fair" event owes much of its triumph to the collaborations and partnerships it nurtured. Nine student organizers from multiple departments at Virginia Tech collaborated on the event, and the time commitment for each individual organizer was made more manageable through the formation of three subcommittees: Funding, Day-Of Logistics, and Workshop Planning.


Screenshot of JSO article.
From IGC Capstone to a published manuscript, IGC Fellows recount their journey organizing a 'Flip the Fair' event. Their experiences are documented in a recent peer-reviewed manuscript published in the Journal of STEM Outreach (JSO), offering valuable insights, tips, and resources for those looking to replicate their science outreach program.


The student organizers also worked closely with the Roanoke Public Libraries (RPL) to host the event. RPL generously provided resources, including staff, space, and expertise, significantly enhancing the event's success.

The Flip the Fair program was designed to both enhance children’s engagement with STEM and provide graduate students with experience communicating their research. To address this second goal, the group partnered with the Center for Communicating Science, which organized a science communication training event for all graduate student participants. This partnership helped equip graduate students with essential communication skills before presenting their research to elementary school students.


screenshort of VT news article
Learn more about the second annual "Flip the Fair" event held in September 2023.

These IGC Fellows have gone above and beyond the scope of the IGC Capstone project, demonstrating the power of learning by doing. They embody the GCC motto of 'science is service' by working to provide children with the opportunity to see themselves as valued contributors in the field of science. Additionally, their recent publication provides valuable insights to assist others in organizing similar successful events, underlining their dedication to sharing knowledge and fostering collaborative science.