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Take Your Grandchildren to a Science Festival

Beyond the Science Fair

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Take Your Grandchildren to a Science Festival
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What Is a Science Festival?

A science festival is a multi-day event, aimed at people of all ages, that showcases science in all its forms and encourages interest in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some science festivals incorporate engineering into their themes. The festival may take place at a convention center, museum, outdoor venue or even at multiple locations across a city or state.

What Is There to Do at a Science Festival?

A typical science festival offers well-known guest speakers and science celebrities, panel discussions, hands-on activities for all ages, science demonstrations, book signings, lectures, films and other science-related events.

Some science festivals include autograph sessions with science celebrities, such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, or MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. The celebrity will give a short talk, then sit at a table and sign autographs. If you'd like an autograph, you will need to get in line early, as these sessions are extremely popular.

Will My Very Young Grandchild Enjoy a Science Festival?

You will need to check the schedule of events to find the answer to this question. Science festivals tend to focus on the kindergarten through high school population, but younger children may enjoy watching demonstrations, participating in hands-on activities, such as building catapults, and watching films and presentations.

Will My Teenage Grandchild Have Fun at a Science Festival?

Absolutely. Teenagers will enjoy seeing science celebrities in person, and some may even want to stand in line for autographs and photos. Many colleges and universities present activities and demonstrations at science festivals, giving teens an opportunity to see what they might be able to do if they study science or engineering at a particular school. Science festivals offer teens the chance to explore a variety of science and engineering careers and find out what actual scientists do.

Will I Have Fun at a Science Festival?

If you have even a slight interest in science, you will probably enjoy attending a science festival. Scientists' and authors' Q&A sessions give you the opportunity to ask questions and interact with famous science writers such as Homer Hickam, Dr. Lisa Randall, Simon Singh and Matthieu Ricard. Demonstrations will challenge your mind and give you new perspectives on cutting-edge science. You will also be encouraging your grandchildren's interest in science, mathematics, technology and engineering.

Where Can I Find a Science Festival?

Large cities and science museums in the United States and the UK present science festivals on an annual or biennial basis. Ask at your local science museum or do an online search.

Examples include:

Science Festival Tips

  • Wear your most comfortable shoes. You will probably stand in several lines while waiting to meet a celebrity, try an activity or purchase food.

  • If you can't stand for long periods, consider bringing a lightweight folding camp stool to sit on while you wait in line.

  • Before leaving home, tell your grandchildren about the possibility of long lines, and suggest they bring along a hand-held game or other portable activity to pass the time. Alternatively, agree in advance to skip the lines and spend more time visiting exhibits and participating in hands-on activities.

  • Check the festival rules in advance to find out whether you can bring your own food. Otherwise, you will need to buy lunch at the convention center or museum sponsoring the festival or leave the venue to find a restaurant.

  • Plan your activities in advance, using the online festival schedule. Some special guests may be in attendance every day, while others will be there only once. Remember that you will have to line up well in advance for most book signings and autograph sessions.

  • The science festival will get more crowded as the day goes on. Arrive early. If the crowds get too thick during the afternoon, attend a panel discussion or lecture, which probably won't be as crowded as a popular demonstration or autograph session.

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