Three flames shoot into the sky as a crowd watches at Beakerhead.
Photo courtesy of Beakerhead, 2017.

Funded Science Festival Alliance Projects

SFA Projects are funded initiatives, administered by member organizations or SFA staff, with outcomes that benefit all SFA members and help build our capacity for impact across the entire public science sector.

Check out open calls for participation or connect with other member festivals and associates in our Members Forum (must be logged in) to propose a new project.

Science Festival Accelerator

2018–22

The Science Festival Accelerator supports new science festivals in communities with a relatively small resource base. Four existing festivals were named as leads and twelve startup festivals were selected from a competitive application process. Due to COVID restrictions, two startup festivals decided to postpone indefinitely. Participating festivals received matching sponsorship funding and professional development resources, and public festivals launched in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, administered by the MIT Museum

Science In Vivo

2018-22

This multiyear initiative, dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science, supported the development of science experiences that “go where the people are.”

Supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative, administered by the MIT Museum

Science Festival Accelerator

2016–18

The Science Festival Accelerator supports new science festivals in communities with a relatively small resource base. Three existing festivals were named as leads and nine start-up festivals were selected from a competitive application process. Participating festivals received matching sponsorship funding and professional development resources, culminating in the International Public Science Events Conference in  public festivals launched in 2017 and 2018.

Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, administered by  the MIT Museum

Just Add Science

2015–16

In the spirit of research and development, this initiative supported a dozen festivals as they experimented with new ways of integrating science learning opportunities within existing community events.

Supported by the Simons Foundation, administered by the MIT Museum from the office of the Cambridge Science Festival

Science Live

2015

By surveying more than 110 practitioners and researchers, this project fostered connections between US and UK–based public science professionals and encouraged sector-wide thinking about our shared goals, challenges, and opportunities.

Download the report here: Science Live: Surveying the landscape of live public science events, January 2016 (PDF).

Supported by Science Learning+, administered by the MIT Museum and Cambridge University

EvalFest

2014–19

Twenty-four science festivals collaborated to measure impact and pool data to uncover learning about public science events. EvalFest helped build capacity for individual festivals to collect and digest this data, experimented with research methods, and considered how to incorporate community-created and multisite evaluation.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, administered by the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at UNC Chapel-Hill from the office of the North Carolina Science Festival, in collaboration with the Bay Area Science Festival and Karen Peterman Consulting

Broad Implementation

2012–15

This significant investment in the Science Festival Alliance mission supported staff at four festival sites, meetings and conferences, and the development of online tools. Funding also included resources for mentoring and travel for new festival initiatives.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, administered by the MIT Museum from the office of the Cambridge Science Festival, in close cooperation with the Philadelphia Science Festival, Bay Area Science Festival, and the North Carolina Science Festival. Major collaborators include American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Science and Technology Centers, howtosmile.org, the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA), and the Association for Community Organization & Social Administration (ACOSA)

Public Understanding of Science and Technology

2012–14

Four existing festivals that launched on budgets of $60,000 or less served as mentors for 12 new festival initiatives with similarly small resource bases. The new festival initiatives received challenge grants, professional development, and site visits from mentor festivals.

Administered by the MIT Museum from the office of the Cambridge Science Festival. National collaborators include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Science and Technology Centers, and COPUS, the Coalition for Public Understanding of Science.

Full-Scale Development and MENA Supplemental

2009–12

The SFA originated with this three-year project, which provided direct support for four existing and emerging festivals. These festivals served as case studies for an independent evaluation by Goodman Research Group: The Science Festival Alliance: Creating a Sustainable National Network of Science Festivals: Year 2 Summative Evaluation.

Supplemental funding provided for in-person workshops, travel, and programming to support the growth of science festivals in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries, beginning with Egypt’s Cairo Science Festival.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, administered by the University of California-San Diego, the MIT Museum, The Franklin Institute, and the University of California-San Francisco