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Spooktacular: Demystifying Science for our County Families

San Bernardino County, CA
Program Year: 2021

The primary objective of the Science Spooktacular program, launched as an annual event in 2019, is to help demystify science and build science literacy in our county. Cognitive science research shows strong evidence that informal learning environment—like museums—provide interventions that extend beyond school walls to enhance learning in challenging subjects like science.Particularly in low income and immigrant communities, the achievement gap is exacerbated when communities lack resources that help children in these socio-economic circumstances realize their intellectual and educational potential. To some, even the word “science” can be intimidating. Halloween is observed in many countries in different ways, but all involve some aspects of honoring the departed, ghouls, ghosts, and night time frights. The essential family aspect of the annual celebration was considered by museum staff to be a perfect starting point to reach a broad, mainstream audience, especially those families that would not necessarily attend a traditional science program. It also provides an opportunity for intergenerational learning, which studies show helps educational attainment, particularly LatinX families, when parents take an active role in activities outside of the formal school setting.In its first year, Science Spooktacular was an onsite event, and in 2020, the event was produced as a virtual program including activity bags, community partner videos, and education on safe Halloween alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating.Science Spooktacular is produced by the museum’s curatorial and education team, with invited community partners to highlight the diversity of the scientific field. Partners in the past have been invited with a goal to include women, LatinX, and other scientists that reflect a field of both genders and POC. In this way, we introduce our vulnerable communities to role models, and provide the opportunity to connect with professionals in a hope they get inspired and see how a scientist can look like them.

Ms. Melissa Russo
Museum Director