Program Impact

Each year, The Franklin Institute (TFI) partners with Rockman et al Cooperative to conduct an independent evaluation of the Science in the Summer program's reach, efficacy, and impact on participants. Below are highlights from the 2023 program, Be a Physicist!  


To read the 2023 GSK Science in the Summer Be a Physicist! executive summary, click here


Children participating in the Laser Scientist activity

Learners participating in the Be a Laser Scientist activity via the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Children power plant

Learners participating in the Be a Power Plant Engineer activity via Science Central.

Program Goals For Children 

The goal of Science in the Summer is to increase children’s interest and confidence in doing science and pursuing STEM careers, especially for children from backgrounds currently underrepresented in STEM fields.

The program aims to do this by providing opportunities for children to: 

  • Embody science careers. Role-play and imagination are important ways that children practice skills and learn to identify with careers and roles. Science in the Summer activities invite children to take on the role of different scientists by framing each activity with a storyline that provides real-world context for the phenomena they are investigating through that career. 
  • Think scientifically. The program’s activities encourage children to recognize and develop scientific practices such as asking questions, making observations and predictions, and drawing conclusions from evidence. 
  • Have fun! The program focuses on creating memorable, engaging science experiences rather than acquiring new science knowledge. Creating moments of excitement and connections to children’s everyday experience helps build positive attitudes and confidence in science and STEM careers. 

Program Goals For Educators and Informal Institutions 

The goal for educators is to build confidence and skills to facilitate high-quality informal STEM experiences for youth

The goal for informal institutions is to build the capacity to engage children from backgrounds currently underrepresented in STEM fields by leveraging and sustaining partnerships with community-based organizations. TFI supports organizations to fold the program into their existing structures.

National and Philadephia-area Network Maps

Maps of the 2023 participating National organizations (left) and Philadelphia-area organizations.

Who participated in the program? 

In 2023, a total of 29,097 youth participated in the GSK Science in the Summer program Be a Physicist! 

  • Nationally, 36 museums and science centers collaborated with 422 organizations to deliver the program to 22,814 youth across the United States. 

  • In the Philadelphia-area, 43 youth-serving organizations located at 145 sites delivered the program to 6,283 youth locally.  

A total of 679 educators were trained and delivered the Be a Physicist! program. All educators were trained by a staff member at The Franklin Institute or a site coordinator from their local organization, using training materials created and supplied by TFI. 

A total of 3,717 youth in the Philadelphia-area participated in a free field trip to The Franklin Institute as part of the Science in the Summer program.

Sound Engineers

Learners participating in the Be a Sound Engineer activity via East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium.

What is Science in the Summer’s impact on YOUTH?

Each summer, learners participate in five hands-on activities built around a different science theme. This theme highlights the career opportunities in this field with the goal of youth seeing themselves as scientists.

  • 92% of educators agreed that the Be a Physicist! program helped youth learn more about science.  

So, [for the] students [we serve] there isn't any other like, hands-on science happening in those 
areas unless their teachers learn how to do it. And it's a lot to ask teachers to add extra 
components to their classroom like that. So, when we go up every summer, I know that all of
the teachers and community leaders that we work with are really excited to have the program 
up there because there's such a lack of hands-on education happening in those areas. 
And the students...They're always really, really excited. It's so cute. And they have a lot of 
fun with it, and I think it definitely helps them. But like to build more of a sense of 
STEM identity within them because we're kind of like their only, or like one of the only, 
sources bringing that kind of education to them
– 2023 National Participant 

  • 93% of educators found that the Be a Physicist! program increased youth’s confidence and excitement around doing science

[Youth] had to work together in their groups and communicate well with each other in order 
to come up with a solution. So that built their confidence because the projects allowed them 
to not only think individually, but also think as a team, which is what science is really about 
in the real world. I think GSK Science in the Summer definitely added to our youths’ 
confidence in themselves in STEM activities, as well as our staff. 
– 2023 Philadelphia-area Educator 

  • 90% of educators agreed that the Be a Physicist! program increased youth’s awareness of science-related careers

It went from something being boring to…it was exciting. It was something that they realized 
that they can actually do. That it's not just all about, you know, “Oh, I don't wanna write papers 
and I don't wanna know equations.” And I'm like, “No, you could be a science engineer.” They learned 
that they could. They didn't even understand that that was a part of it. They were like, “What? That's
a part of science?” 
– 2023 Philadelphia-area Educator 

Student looking at stickers

Learners choosing science skills stickers after the Be a Laser Scientist activity via the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Teacher with group of students

An educator and learners participating in the Be an Accident Investigator activity via Science City at Union City.

What is Science in the Summer’s impact on EDUCATORS?

All educators delivering Science in the Summer programming are trained by The Franklin Institute staff or an organizational coordinator who has been trained by TFI. TFI offers asynchronous, interactive training units that orient the educators to the curriculum as well as facilitation techniques. TFI also hosts in-person hands-on trainings for Philadelphia-area participants. Once trained, educators receive all materials and content needed to deliver the program, as well as on-going support from TFI and their host organization.

  • 78% of educators said they are more comfortable teaching STEM topics after implementing the program.

Some of these topics were not interesting to me when I first heard about the titles, but as soon as I started 
reading more about it and seeing the kids engage, I was able to get excited and engaged with them. I am 
also more comfortable explaining the "whys" behind these topics. 
– 2023 Educator

[L]ast fall I taught a program called “Sweet Science.”… [A]fter having the training that previous summer moving
into the fall, I felt more comfortable with open-ended questions. There were no wrong answers. Even if it's not 
going the way we want it to, we're still learning something from it. So, the training from GSK Science in the 
Summer has definitely taught me a better way to offer any of our STEM programming to the kids, just so that 
they don't feel defeated and they're still feeling interested, and excited, and enthusiastic about everything that 
we offer them. 
– 2023 Philadelphia-area Educator 

  • 72% of educators indicated they are more personally engaged and interested in facilitating STEM topics after implementing the program.

I handle all the programming… and will be incorporating more STEM-based programs after being part of [GSK 
Science in the Summer]. It has not only piqued my interest in science, but [it has] given me a new awareness of 
how much STEM is used in our daily lives. I feel much more confident and comfortable relating and using STEM 
in our other programming that is mostly arts-based because I see more clearly now how they interact. 
– 2023 Educator 

  • 62% of educators said they have incorporated skills learned from GSK Science in the Summer in their own education practice.

I always just had a general interest in [science]...But I think that what the program has done for me has helped 
me better teach that to children. I've taken a lot from what they've taught us…asking open-ended questions and 
not saying like, “No, that's not the right answer. This is the right answer.” Like reframing that to be and kind of 
like run with that and lead them to get the answer versus you telling them. Like there's been a lot in that aspect 
that I've learned. 
– 2023 Philadelphia-area Participant

Educator training adults

A TFI team member trains educators in the Be a Power Plant Engineer activity.

Children Sound Engineers

Learners participating in the Be a Sound Engineer activity at the Greater Philadelphia Community Alliance.

What is Science in the Summer’s impact on participating ORGANIZATIONS?

Science in the Summer participants are part of a network of organizations that receive professional development, training support, and the physical materials to support the program curriculum. Organizations collaborate with local community partners toward the goal of providing equitable STEM experiences in their communities.

  • 74% of participants said their organizations had an increased ability to incorporate STEM into programming.

I think it has helped our team include a lot more STEM programming in the summer program because it really lightens the load in 
terms of having these very carefully and thoughtfully designed activities that engage the students and all the materials and the 
support, right there. And so, that gives the educators more, more bandwidth to think about how they're kind of hooking students 
into the activity and thinking about questions to ask along the way or, or how to extend their learning. Having turnkey materials 
has really helped us focus more on the “how” of delivering, instead of worrying so much about finding a good curriculum and 
getting all the materials. 
– 2023 Philadelphia-area Educator

  • National and Philadelphia-area organizations both cite GSK Science in Summer as an asset in connecting with more youth in their communities during the summer months as well as building the capacity of their organizations to incorporate more STEM into their programming.

The GSK Science in the Summer program allowed us to increase our summer engagement, 
I mean, a million times over. We were running small group summer camps and maybe having thirty 
or forty kids over the course of the summer before GSK Science in the Summer. And then with Science in the 
Summer, we were working with over 1500 kids every summer and getting into pockets of the community that don't
necessarily make it into the building. The curriculum that was provided was very accessible both for the students, 
but also for the educators that were facilitating the activities with the kids. And so, it really helped empower 
our counselors, our instructors, and our partners who were facilitating the program at their sites. 
– 2023 National Participant

When I started at the museum, [GSK] Science in the Summer was one of the first programs that I brought as a 
curator. It helped me grow in my position. It helped me grow my program significantly, and it helped me to 
develop training resources for our staff. So outside of the intent of the program, it made a massive contribution to 
the education program for [National site]. We now have permanent staff positions because of this program that 
were not there before.” 
– 2023 National Participant

Man Laser Scientist

An educator at a 2023 educator training at The Franklin Institute.

To learn more about how your organization can participate in GSK Science in the Summer, visit our National or Philadelphia-area pages.