From March 14-25, 2017, attendees can meet an astronaut, taste edible insects, explore the physics of circus acts, play robot soccer, rap about climate change, take a geology walking tour, discover new species, investigate a zombie disease outbreak, and more at 100 engaging events throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area. Events are for audiences of all ages - including teachers -- and most are free!
The festival began in 2014 as a collaboration between Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and numerous community partners. “We really wanted to showcase the science being done in our region and increase awareness of the STEM education and career opportunities here,” says co-founder Meisa Salaita about the festival’s development.
Bringing together everyone -- from universities to museums and corporations to government agencies -- the Atlanta Science Festival celebrates the opportunities for educational advancement, careers, and innovations in STEM fields that are unique to the Atlanta region. “We think of Atlanta as a science city,” says festival co-director Jordan Rose, “and the festival is working to instill a sense of pride in this region as a place for innovation and discovery.”
The events are designed specifically to create opportunities to interact with local scientists, engineers, technicians, and other STEM professionals. Several events make for great field trips where students can go behind the scenes at Georgia Aquarium, take guided nature walks at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, tour university laboratories, engage in forensic investigations, and much more. There is a bit of science for everyone!
The festival culminates with the Exploration EXPO, a one-day carnival of science featuring interactive exhibits and performances from university research labs, local businesses and museums. The EXPO will offer opportunities to touch a brain, fly a drone, build strands of DNA and more. Join 20,000 other curious people at Atlanta’s biggest interactive science day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 25 at Centennial Olympic Park. The EXPO is free and opens to adults, families and children of all ages.
Information for Educators
Educators can find useful resources at the Atlanta Science Festival’s Educator Toolkit (http://atlantasciencefestival.org/teachers). The festival offers bus vouchers for Title I schools to help bring students to the EXPO on March 25. Educators can request classroom visits from STEM professionals during the spring via the festival’s Imagining the Future program. These visits give students a sense of what it is like to work in STEM and encourages students to imagine themselves addressing tomorrow’s challenges with STEM knowledge. “I loved seeing the smiles on my students faces and hearing them say ‘Oh, I can see myself doing that’ and ‘STEM is so cool!’” said one of last year’s teacher participants.
The Educator Toolkit also includes details about a science haiku contest and middle school web design challenge on environmental technology. In addition to the online resources there are events throughout the festival week just for educators: a STEAM Leadership conference, a design thinking and 3-D printing workshop at the High Museum of Art, and a biotechnology workshop where you can propose DNA experiments to be carried out in space. “We love our science teachers,” says Rose, “they are the backbone of our STEM ecosystem. The festival hopes to continue their good work inside the classroom with great learning experiences for young people and families outside the classroom.”