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


The Science Festival Accelerator supports new and emerging science festivals in communities with a relatively small resource base. Exiting festivals serve as leads and mentors to small cohorts of startup festivals and all are selected through a competitive application process. Participating festivals received matching sponsorship funding, professional development resources, and, beginning with the 2019 Accelerator, support in creating a diversity plan and establishing methods for evaluation. Since 20XX, 11 lead festivals have mentored 33 startup festivals, resulting in 31 new public festivals launched since 2018 and two postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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

Modeling Community Listening


In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many science organizations shifted their programming online, accelerating a digital divide that is already a barrier to diversity and inclusion in public science engagement. With SFA Accelerator Advisor and community organizer Daniel Aguirre, we launched a series of listening sessions. Community members including teachers, parents, and students set the agenda based on their own priorities and public science practitioners participated in “listen-only” mode. These sessions were moving and informative, and, most important, a model for community engagement that every organization can bring into its own public science practice.

Conversations in Color built on the momentum of our Voices listening sessions and invited public science practitioners to listen to three conversations between Black, Latino/a/x, and Afro-Descendant community members. Participants were then guided to initiate a private cross-cultural conversation with a listening partner to whom they are already connected, sharing their own cultural lenses, pushing through discomfort, and practicing active engagement.

Produced by Daniel Aguirre, community organizer, Science Festival Accelerator Advisory Board Chair, and STEM consultant with TIES (Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM), in collaboration with the Science Festival Alliance and Science Events Summit.

Science In Vivo


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

Just Add Science


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


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



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


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,, the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA), and the Association for Community Organization & Social Administration (ACOSA)

Public Understanding of Science and Technology


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


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