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2022 | Flip the Fair

Flip the Fair

IGC Capstone Project | Interfaces of Global Change

Flip the Fair

Student Members:
Faculty Mentor:
  • Carrie Kroehler, Center for Communicating Science

Five IGC fellows collaborated with several other VT graduate students and the Roanoke City Public Libraries to host a Flipped Science Fair, with twin goals of science outreach and graduate training. At the fair, 28 graduate students presented posters about their research, and elementary students (ages 8–10) were invited to serve as judges. We specifically reached out to students from the city of Roanoke, VA, USA, where 15 out of 17 elementary schools receive support from Title I (allocated to schools with low-income students). These students often face barriers to entering science fields, including a lack of self-identification as potential scientists. We based this event on the premise that actively requesting and valuing student opinions is critical in empowering children to develop a science identity of their own. While judging posters, children learned about a wide range of leading-edge research occurring at Virginia Tech and had meaningful interactions with professional scientists in small-group settings. For graduate students, this program provided an opportunity to practice communicating their research to a new audience. To prepare graduate students for this challenge and further advance the educational goals of the project, we held an additional workshop prior to the Flipped Fair event; graduate students received training in communicating science to children and discussed diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations. Ultimately, the success of this event highlights how breaking down traditional hierarchies in science communication and valuing non-expert opinions can enhance both outreach and educational goals.