SHOW OF THE WEEK:: MSU Science Festival

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Thursday, April 16, 2015, 6:00 am
Rosalind Arch


Almost 100 years ago, a man won a Nobel Prize for his discoveries, explaining the nature of space and time. He developed a theory of relativity that would come to be the foundation for modern physics. Mr. Einstein claimed, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

This weekend, explore your own curiosities and unearth the complexities of our vast universe at Michigan State’s 3rd annual Science Festival.

This free, five- day celebration of science will offer various demonstrations, lectures, discussion panels, hands-on activities, exhibits, and guided tours to participants of all ages. Renee Leone, co-founder and coordinator of the MSU Science Festival, describes the event as a way to experience “Science and its role in our lives [which] is often not obvious... it’s overlooked, misunderstood. The festival is a great way to make the connection between various disciplines of our interests in sports, music, art, video, the stock market...all areas that science is related and connected to.”

While the festival invites entire families to participate and learn together, activities and presentations are categorized based on the intended age of the audience. Events in the ‘Early Childhood Zone’, will feature early elementary teachers and specialists demonstrating hands-on crafts and activities for children ages 6 and under. According to Leone, these projects, such as make-and-take lava lamps, “nurture scientific skills that come naturally to young children, like using their five senses”.

Expo Zone events are open to all ages, and explore a wide variety of topics with interactive activities, like extracting your own DNA. Featured events include an “Evening With the Stars” at the MSU observatory and keynote speakers including Mary Stewart Adams, director of Michigan’s International Dark Sky Park, and Scott Sampson, world-renowned paleontologist and host of the popular PBS Kid’s, “Dinosaur Train.” Families can also enjoy guided tours of the Bug House, Cyclotron, and the architecture of MSU’s Broad Art Museum.

Leone speaks to the common misconception that the festival is geared towards children, noting that “it is often misunderstood - we have many things adults enjoy. They are as interested and engaged as children and we love watching the side-by-side experience. We have a lot of fun discussion panels on the geology of Michigan and renewable energy as well as demonstrations on beer and wine making,” including one from local bar and grill, Harpers.

“It is our hope that people will go home and talk about what they saw, reach across generations and start conversations at the dinner table,” Leone says. “When we see people smiling and engaged in activities and presentations we feel as if we’ve done our job.”

On Saturday and Sunday, information booths on campus will be located by Abrams Planetarium and Benefactors Plaza with attendants who can help locate Festival events. Information tables will be located in the Biomedical Physical Sciences building, the Chemistry building and Plant and Soil Science Buildings, which are central to a majority of Science Festival activities.

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