Wow!How? Family Science Fair

Wow, that's amazing! How do you do it?

Promoting science to family friendly audiences

Wow!How? is an annual volunteer-run family friendly science fair held at the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, the one-day event takes place during National Science & Engineering Week. It is also part of the annual Oxfordshire Science Festival.

Wow!How? aims to publicly promote science as an exciting, relevant, and worthwhile endeavour. For many of our visitors, it provides an unusual positive interaction with scientific ideas and experiments.

The volunteers are often scientists or amateur enthusiasts themselves, and although targeted at families with children aged 8+, the day nonetheless has something to offer visitors of all ages and attracts a wide spectrum of people.

For visitors: "Has this event changed your views on science?"

“It is much more applicable to children than I thought.” – Visitor aged 19-29
“It gave my son insights into how science can lead to different careers.” – Visitor aged 40-49, with child aged 12-18
“Made it so interesting.” – Visitor aged 50-59, with child aged 6-11
“I now realise that science can be interactive.” – Visitor aged 12-18
“Made me realise how many aspects it covers.” – Visitor aged 19-29
“I thought science was boring but now I think it’s fun.” – Visitor aged 6-11

However, it's not just the visitors who benefit. Wow!How? offers volunteers valuable experience in science communication and museum-based education.

For volunteers: "What, if anything, have you gained from volunteering at Wow! How??"

“Feel involved with the community, not just the University. A boost to team skills, which don't often get used in my research!”
“Experience in explaining natural history to small children and sceptical adults!”
“Satisfaction at doing something that pays off, and seeing people enjoying and learning at my stall. Definitely worth it.”
“Gained huge insight into the power of communicating science to museum-goers [and] valuable experience into what works and what doesn't [when] engaging public in a science fair setting.”
“A very intense day [...] constantly talking to members of the public and making sure your information was correct - as such it was an excellent confidence [builder] in public engagement.”
“A reminder of how an early interest in science is sparked.”

For more detailed analysis, please read the Wow!How? 2012 Evaluation Report and the Wow!How? 2014 Evaluation Report (there was no Wow!How? in 2013 because the Museum of Natural History was closed); plus, see more photographs of the event in recent years on Flickr.

You might also be interested in our other science communication opportunities.