The Fabric of the Cosmos – Summative Evaluation Report
Publication: April 2012
Project: Fabric of the Cosmos NOVA series, a four-part PBS television series
Authors: Pam Castori, Becky Carroll, Laura Stokes, with assistance from Judy Hirabayashi and Laurie Lopez
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The Fabric of the Cosmos NOVA series, a four-part PBS television series based on the book of the same name by Dr. Brian Greene, aired in November 2011. NOVA designed and produced accompanying web-based materials and outreach events (science cafés themed as “Cosmic Cafés,” offered in collaboration with the Society of Physics Students). These web-based materials and outreach events were designed to add value to public audiences’ viewing experiences and promote community-based face-to-face engagement of public audiences around the program and its associated topics (space, time, quantum physics, the universe and multiverse).
Inverness Research was commissioned to do the summative evaluation of the NOVA series and outreach strategies. The aim of the evaluation was to assess the ways in which and the extent to which The Fabric of the Cosmos project developed the public’s awareness of and interest in the science topics and the work of scientists, and enhanced their knowledge and understanding of the key concepts. The evaluation focused on the television series, the Cosmic Cafés, and the web-based materials, asking about the effectiveness of each and the extent to which they interacted to enhance the experience and impact of engaging in the science topics central to The Fabric of the Cosmos. Data were gathered through a viewer/participant survey, interviews, expert reviews, and in-person observations. Findings reported focused on impacts related to inspiration and appeal, effectiveness for different audiences, and value-added of the outreach experiences to the program viewing experience. Our study revealed that because of the range of opportunities public audiences had in to engage and interact with the television program through supporting resources and outreach events, The Fabric of the Cosmos ignited publics’ interest in and stimulated learning about space, time, quantum mechanics, the universe and multiverse. The various media-based and face-to-face community-based opportunities to engage with The Fabric topics also spurred NOVA watchers to share information about the program and some of its ideas with family, friends and colleagues, thereby amplifying its reach and potential impact.
Science Education Media Producers, Museum Educators, Science Educators and Administrators, Reform Leaders and Funders, and general public.
This report was prepared with support from the National Science Foundation under grant number NSF #0714645.
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