NISE Network Forum: "Energy Challenges, Nanotech Solutions?" Formative Evaluation
This study was conducted as a part of the formative evaluation of the NISE Network forum Energy Challenges, Nanotech Solutions? The purpose of the forum was to bring members of the public together to discuss how they would suggest that NSF distribute funding among three different energy-related research topics: nanotechnology-dependent energy, existing alternative energy, and conservation & energy efficiency. During 2008, all five NISE Network Forum Team institutions (Exploratorium, Museum of Science, Museum of Life and Science, Science Museum of Minnesota, and Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) presented this forum at least once. As a part of the presentation of the forum, formative evaluation information was collected including registration surveys, participant documentation, pre/post exit surveys, observations, evaluator discussion debriefs, educator debriefs, video/audio tapes, and speaker follow-up emails. This information along with data collected through other sources was used to help the team modify and optimize the forum for participants and program educators. In addition, it was felt that the data collected could be used to help future forum educators and expert presenters understand the needs of potential forum audiences and gain advice from past forum educators. Based on the results of the formative evaluation, advice to those presenting future Energy Challenges, Nanotech Solutions? forums includes the following:· Balance the time allowed for the expert presentations and small group discussion because participants find both of these segments of the forum important.· Make sure to use facilitation tools throughout the forum to keep the forum running on time and to ensure that participants keep on task.· Make sure to explain the purpose of the forum and the different forum segments so that participants understand what they are being asked to do and feel that their involvement in the program is worthwhile.· Make sure to work closely with speakers on their presentations to make it more likely that participants will learn from them.· If at all possible, make sure the presentations cover the full range of content relevant to the discussion scenarios, including information about applications, risks & benefits, and research related to all three types of energy technologies (nanotechnology-based energy, existing alternative energies, and conservation & energy efficiencies).· Make sure that participants encounter at least one nanotechnology-based energy discussion card during the small group discussion in order to encourage them to talk about nanotechnology.· Make sure the participants clearly understand what they are expected to produce for the report-out so that they are not caught off-guard.