Thursday, March 17, 2016

Atlanta Science Festival fosters 'small steps, big ideas'

Emory faculty and students are set to dazzle children with science demonstrations at "Physics Live!" The event will take place on Friday, March 25 from 3:30 to 7 pm in Emory's Math and Science Building. 

By Carol Clark

"Small steps, big ideas," is the theme of the third annual Atlanta Science Festival, which encourages all ages to step into a world of wonder and exploration through more than 100 events and hands-on activities in metro-Atlanta from March 19 to March 26. In fact, the party has already started via ongoing online activities, such as a chance to vote for Atlanta's favorite scientist and compose original "sci-ku" — or science-themed haiku.

About 50,000 people are expected to turn out during the eight-day festival for talks, lab tours, film screenings, participatory activities and science demonstrations. The events are set at more than 80 different venues, including the Emory campus.

"We've got a lot of fun and irreverent events, like 'The Science of Circus," and others that are more on the serious side, like a discussion on climate change," says Jordan Rose, who is executive co-director of the festival along with Meisa Salaita. "There is something for everyone, from little kids to teens, college students and adults."

A new event this year, "Sci-Cycle: A Competitive Scavenger Hunt on Two Wheels," will start things rolling on the opening day of the festival, Saturday, March 19. The Emory Spokes Council and the Emory Graduate Sustainability Group are organizing the bike adventure, to take place on the Atlanta Beltline. Participants will learn about materials science, urban foraging and sustainable practices through pedaling to various locations and performing tasks such as using a bicycle-powered blender to make a smoothie.

Also new this year is a "Science Parade," set for the final day of the festival, on Saturday, March 26, starting at the Centennial Academy in downtown Atlanta. "Everyone is welcome to join the parade," Rose says. "We're encouraging people to come dressed as their favorite scientist, or element or other science-themed character."

The half-mile parade, led by the Seed and Feed Marching Abominable band, will end at Centennial Olympic Park for the launch of the Exploration Expo, the culminating event of the Atlanta Science Festival. The free Expo includes stage performances and hands-on science activities at 100-plus exhibitor booths, including more than a dozen run by Emory faculty and students.

Highlights of this year's Expo will include a giant LEGO build of the city of Atlanta, which will be 40-feet wide upon completion. "Everyone can help assemble a bit of it throughout the Expo," Rose says.

A range of Atlanta Science Festival events will take place on the Emory and Oxford campuses, as well as the Carter Center.

"The Atlanta Science Festival is a great way to feature some of the research and discoveries that are coming out of Emory for the local community," Rose says. "It's also a great platform for Emory students and faculty to practice their communication skills for a general audience, and to engage the public in their science."

Click here for a full listing of Emory events, and details about how to join them.

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