Oh, the Places We Learn! Exploring Interest in Science at Science Fiction Conventions

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Gina M Childers
Donna Governor
Kania Greer
Vaughan James


Science fiction conventions are places where individuals with an interest in diverse genres and mediums can engage with a community that bridges the world of science fiction and fact. Many of these conventions provide a science “track” where science experts share their expertise and research on scientific findings and applications of science with science fiction enthusiasts. This study explored science fiction conference attendees’ (n = 241) interest in science as well as how attendees (n = 172) plan to utilize science shared at science track sessions. Survey responses were analyzed within “STEM career” groups by comparing science track and non-science track attendees and documenting what science track attendees plan to do with the information gained at a science track session. There were no differences in how science track attendees and non-science track attendees with STEM careers reported their interest in science. For the attendees that did not report having a career related to STEM, science track participants reported higher interest scores than non-science track attendees. Over half of the science track attendees (66%) shared they will apply what they learned from a science track session to their own personal context. Furthermore, the demographics of the survey respondents may suggest that science fiction conventions are an untapped science learning environment, connecting to a younger, more diverse community.  Overall, recognizing the benefit of science fiction conventions is crucial to provide spaces for accessible venues of science communication to foster an interest in science for a diverse, public audience.

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Research / Empirical