Market Science is science outreach initiative run by a group of graduate students and post-docs at the University of Minnesota; I sit on the Advisory Board and have been involved with the program since its inception in 2013. Though I now am in an advisory role, during the formative years of Market Science I focused on recruitment, outreach training, and logistics, and helped to grow the program into one of the largest science outreach initiatives in Minnesota.
Every Saturday during the spring, summer, and fall, we set up “science discovery” booths at public venues across Minnesota, introducing kids and adults to a wide range of topics in the natural sciences. We mostly work at farmers markets, but also take Market Science to street fairs, county fairs, and other informal, public settings. Themes run the gamut from geology to water quality to entomology, and we always welcome new volunteers! We hope that by providing this fun, informal setting for researchers to interact with the public, we can work to narrow some of the wide achievement gaps in STEM fields, garner more public support for science, and introduce the amazing world of scientific inquiry to our broader Twin Cities communities. This project has been extremely successful in providing outreach venues for researchers not just at UMN, but at other local universities and government agencies, and we reach thousands of visitors each year. If you’re interested in starting a pilot program at your own institution, let me know!