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Spring Science Festivals Mix Stars from Sky and Screen


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The Cambridge Science Festival 2011, courtesy of the M.I.T. Museum

Earlier this week The New York Times profiled the director of the M.I.T. Museum and founder of the Cambridge Science Festival, John Durant. The piece mentioned that science festivals have been multiplying across the country; last year there were more than 20. According to the Times:

“A science festival has more in common with a film, art or food festival. Festivals aim to bring in tourism dollars, introduce people to scientists and demystify science in an era when researchers and large sectors of the public diverge on major policy issues like climate change, vaccines and embryonic stem cell research.

‘People are living with tensions between what they think about science in one area and what they believe in another,’Dr. Durant said. Science festivals help bridge those gaps. ‘We shouldn’t just be trying to shove science down people’s throats. It never works and it’s very uncongenial.’”

Here are some of the celebrations that are coming up:

Cambridge Science Festival. Cambridge, Mass. Friday, April 20 through Sunday, April 29. Underwater robots, experimental games from the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, mathematical origami and many, many more events.

Philadelphia Science Festival. Friday, April 20 through Sunday, April 29. Learn about olfaction, facial recognition technology and more from scientists and engineers throughout the city.

USA Science & Engineering Festival. Washington, D.C. Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29. Celebrities (Mayim Biyalik of “The Big Bang Theory”; Bill Nye the Science Guy) and scientists and educators from 500 of the top science organizations in the country mix it up in 2 packed days of events. Scientific American is a sponsor.

International Dark Sky Week, April 14-20. A component of Global Astronomy Month, this event helps stargazers appreciate the beauty of the night sky and reminds them to help cut down on light pollution. Check for related astronomy events here.

World Science Festival, New York City. May 30 to June 3. Columbia University physicist Brian Greene and his wife Tracy Day launched this highbrow and highly entertaining celebration of the sciences in 2008. Among this year’s events: the winner of Alan Alda’s contest for the best simple explanation of a flame will finally be revealed. The judges: 11 year olds from 130 schools across the country.

About the Author: Anna Kuchment is a Contributing Editor at Scientific American and was previously a reporter, writer and editor with Newsweek magazine. She is also author of “The Forgotten Cure,” about bacteriophage viruses and their potential as weapons against antibiotic resistance. Follow on Twitter @akuchment.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. buhrayin 12:53 am 04/22/2012

    Philadelphia Science Festival CARNIVAL was very entertaining and enlightening under bright skies and pleasant temperatures today. Here’s my little video collage of some of the experiments, presenters and attendees. http://youtu.be/EKYJNHmOnKo More festivities to follow this week. Yay for science!

    Link to this

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