What makes informal education programs successful?
Evaluation and assessments of informal education programs have been challenging because of the diverse nature of objectives, setups, and expected outcomes of these programs. Almost all institutions that develop and present such programs include evaluation specialists in their staff. However, for very large public outreach efforts, large evaluation groups/institutions can contribute more objective and extensive evaluation and assessment instruments that will help to identify whether the program was successful and if the learning objectives were achieved. Approximately 42,000 people participated in "Total Solar Eclipse 2001" at 164 public venues, including 21 museums internationally, science centers, and planetariums. We will expand further on the properties of this program that help to determine whether it was successful or not. Success can be affected by such issues as personal interest in the content, publicity, connectivity to a group, educational as well as entertainment value, and the challenges of using high technology.