Thursday, November 10, 2011

Science Festival Fun!

This is Kalie, Membership Manager at the Coalition for Science After School. Last Sunday, I attended Discovery Days at AT&T Park, the capstone event for the inaugural Bay Area Science Festival. For those not in the Bay Area, AT&T Park is home to the San Francisco Giants, and it was a lot of fun to see this local sports landmark turned into a science wonderland!

We were so excited to partner with Radio Disney for two great performances that taught kids about energy through the adventures of Phineas and Ferb, two popular cartoon stars of their own Disney Channel show. In the performance, two scientists were turned into robots by the nefarious Dr. Doofenshmirtz and his Robot-In-Ator Force Field. Kids had to use different forms of energy by moving their bodies to release the scientists. At the end, kids and parents learned that they could find more fun learning opportunities for science outside of the classroom by visiting Radio Disney also hosted a booth where kids could compete in fun science-related challenges and pick up some prizes and goodie bags. Thanks to Radio Disney and PG&E for putting on a great show!

The Radio Disney dancers perform near their table. Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

 The show begins! Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

Aside from the Radio Disney performance, there were a lot of other fun things to explore and see. Over 90 different science organizations from around the Bay Area--including Coalition members like the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Chabot Space & Science Center, the California Academy of Sciences, Techbridge, and the Tech Museum--offered activities, contests, demonstrations, prizes, products, and much more. While there, I saw a squid dissection, telescopes from NASA, Lego robots, and lots of kids and families excited about science.

  A Radio Disney performer checks out the PG&E booth. PG&E sponsored the performance, which focuses on energy. 
Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

Science festivals are a great opportunity to explore science in an informal setting. Tabletop activities make it easy for families to move from one station to the next, and facilitators often bring a project or prize for kids to take home, lengthening the experience beyond the one-day event. The wide variety of exhibitors at the festival--universities, museums, researchers, industry leaders, and many other science institutions--meant that there was bound to be something fun for every attendee. Kids and parents got the opportunity to closely interact with professional scientists, as well as many college students and other science educators enthusiastic about their subjects. The location was close to public transportation, making getting to the event as eco-friendly as could be--and with the generous support of the event's sponsors, attendance was free. 

The Bay Area Science Festival is just one of several Science Fests going on around the country. Other upcoming events will be held in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Cambridge. Check out the Science Festival Alliance to find a science festival near you--or how to bring one to your area.

Lots of kids and families viewed the performance. Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

Even San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee stopped by! Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

Kids explored wind energy by moving their arms. Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

 It was a beautiful and fun day for science! Image courtesy of Radio Disney.

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