The half-life of a “teachable moment”: The case of Nobel laureates

Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Elad Segev

Some science-related events stimulate public interest, and create a teachable moment in which the underlying science temporarily becomes more interesting. Here, media attention, expressed by Google News reference volume, and changes in information seeking behavior, expressed by Google Trends, were used to estimate the length of a teachable moment for 2004–2011 Nobel Prize announcements. On average, Nobel Prize announcements attracted the attention of online users for no longer than a week. News coverage declined slower and occasionally displayed seasonal trends. There was a 50% drop in searches between the day of the announcement and the following day, and an analogous pattern for news coverage of all laureates varying for different disciplines. The affordances of using publicly available online data to identify the most effective teachable moments relating to science are discussed.



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