Carolina Biological OSE - March 2024


Forums / Informal Science / Family Science Night

Informal Science

Family Science Night

Author Post
 Rebecca Schumacher 50 Points

I am working on creating an after school family science night program based on STEAM.  We met five times throughout the school year with fun activities to do each night for the whole family.  I also provided light refreshments.  I happen to work in an alternative program which means we have limitations.  Often transportation was a problem.  Disinterest is a huge problem.  My question for the community is: What can I do to increase buy-in?  Is anyone else in a similar situation, trying to provide fun, family oriented science experiences in order to open doors or open eyes? Thanks, Becky

Lindsey Zhang Lindsey Zhang 1175 Points

Family science night sounds like a great idea! In the fall it gets dark rather early. Students could go outside with their families to see what happens when it gets dark. For example you could stargaze or look at the different types of bugs that come out in the evening. Parents and kids would have tons of fun doing this!

Ashley Gonzalez Ashley Gonzalez 2650 Points

Hi Becky! Thank you for taking the time to engage students and parents in something meaningful and fun. I am not in a similar situation, however, when I was in grade school, my school was funded by NASA. The school put together an event where students (and their parents) would build a rocket from ordinary materials together and we would launch it in the courtyard and whose ever rocket got the farthest won a prize. It was exciting and a great bonding experience. Perhaps making a friendly competition out of it could entice some students to attend. Hope this helps! I wish you the best.

Kale Lindner Kale Lindner 3045 Points

This is a really interesting idea. There are clubs for a lot of different things, but there are not many that reflect subjects of school such as science. Have you thought about bringing in guest speakers that may draw more of a crowd? There are many people that are capable of putting on cool science demonstrations that I am sure you could get ahold of. Our high school science teacher used to do demonstrations for our elementary school. Unfortunately, transportation is not a simply solved issue; but you could consider putting out feelers for carpools on weekly or monthly reports that students take home with them. I am not sure what the public modes of transportation near you are, but you could also recommend that families teach their students about public forms of transportation because navigation is an important skill to learn. Hope these thoughts help you!

Tareen Chowdhury Tareen Chowdhury 875 Points

I think this is an awesome idea! Unfortunately I understand the issue of disinterest, as many parents don't necessarily want to leave their homes after their work day or school day ends. I think providing notice ahead of time is important so that parents can plan around the day. Perhaps you could think of different activities for different nights and parents can sign up for the one they are most interested in. That way they have better understanding of what they will be doing and have time to plan for that day. In the notice, you can also include suggestions for transportation that are available in your community. Although it may still be an issue, at least they are given options and sometimes they may not be aware of those options. Great idea! Hope this helps.

Camillia Ledbetter Camillia Ledbetter 960 Points


I love this idea of an after school event to promote science! I would focus on one big project the families would work on throughout the night that would be exciting for everyone. Once you have that amazing project in mind, the key is to get the students excited enough to communicate the event to their parents. Make exciting promotions in the announcements, posters throughout the schools, and promote the event through school social media. Perhaps a community partner could donate food! I love the idea of spreading STEAM.

Erik Lucas Erik Lucas 705 Points

The biggest issue with events like this at my site is parent turnout. We're located in a rural community, and students and parents have to travel a long distance to get to school. Parent support is great, but when it comes to turning up to on campus events, the numbers just aren't there.

Scott Williams Scott Williams 490 Points

Hi Becky. I too participate in family science nights through my employment at a local science center. I can honestly say that sometimes turnout is not very good. However, we have found it extremely helpful to conduct family science nights on Fridays. Parents and students alike seem to be more willing to attend such an event on a weekend night when they may not have work the next day. Also, I noticed that many of the schools we visit offer their students some sort of incentive for attending (i.e. extra credit). For our programs the students usually carry around a passport and receive a stamp for every station they complete. This is an effective strategy as the students are usually determined to complete their passports before the nights end. Another suggestion I will make is to offer the students, and parents, hands on activities and experiments. Allow them to conduct the experiments under an administrator's supervision. If the students can go back into school and say "I created a volcano" or "I froze a flower in liquid nitrogen" it will entice other students to want to do the same. Hope this helps. Good Luck!

Jessalyn Primrose Jessalyn Primrose 4465 Points

I have never thought of having students conduct an experiment at a family science night. I think that's a great way to get students interested in participating!

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92364 Points

There may not be one specific answer to your situation. Perhaps you could poll the students/parents to determine the best night for them to attend. Maybe it needs to happen within the school day? A friend of mine gives her students small badges to wear (like we received at MEMTA) that they earn for attending and participating in certain school events. I read an article a few months back where a principal was trying to get parents to actually come into the school for an informal coffee with the principal to chat about their concerns and ideas for the school. She noticed many parents walked their children to the corner but didn't actually walk them onto the school property. The principal walked down to where most of the parents were stopping to visit with them. It turned out that the parents did not have very good memories of their school days and felt like school was a necessary evil. That started the conversation. Things began to turn around after that. I realize you may not be in a position to speak with the parents in that manner. What if you could make arrangements with a community center that serves your students in their neighborhoods and hold science nights there? I would suggest talking the the city parks and recreation department to see what guidelines you would need to follow. Then, if you have any energy left, contact local stores to see if they could donate small prizes, coupons, etc. How you give out the prizes depends on what you think will have the greatest impact. You could give them out at science night or let students know they get their name in the pot for the drawing, each time they attend and an extra time for any adult that attends with them. I think it would be beneficial to have other teachers and the administration on board to help you with getting the word out. Maybe have the local TV station come out or ask them to make an announcement for upcoming events for your school. What if you could get a local high school to send student volunteers so they could earn service hours?

Victoria Wilt Victoria Wilt 1015 Points

I believe these Family Science Nights are wonderful, and if turnout is good, it is a great way to get the parents involved in their child's education. I would definitely send out a questionnaire to see when the parents of your students are most available. It could have been due to the time that it was scheduled that some may not have been able to attend. In the questionnaire I would also ask the families what they would like to see, learn, or experience with their child at this event. I believe if they feel like their opinion matters in what will happen at this event and are asked what is a best time then the families may be more willing to attend the event.

Kia Shields Kia Shields 3432 Points

Hi! I agree with you in finding out when the best nights for parents to attend a Science night at the school. Also asking parents what areas of science that they want to learn about should help with participation too.

Kelly Zalopany Kelly Zalopany 400 Points

I love the idea of more parent involvement. Thanks for sharing! 

Samantha Hyde Samantha Hyde 1850 Points

Reading over the comments there are a lot of great suggestions. I'm a future educator and due to the COVID-19 having family science nights is very beneficital for students and it great the whole family together. I have three younger siblings and all younger cousins and my youngest cousin is in the 3rd grade. We have been going on to YouTube and seeing different science expierments we can do at home. We have done the milk, food coloring, and dish soap. We have done mentos and coke. What is great about these activites is after she see's it she always says, 'how does it do that?' that where we start to research and ask questions to find answers. It's a great way to get her thinking, entertained, and we get to bond while we did a science expierment. Having a deadacated night for science fun I think it's a great idea. The parents get to be involved and the child get to learn in a fun way. I would check in with parents to see how things are going and what is and is not working, that wya you can help make situtations better for the future activities. 

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