The Philadelphia Science Festival – 2016

Hello fellow g33ks,

April 28-30 I was lucky enough to attend events held during the first Philadelphia Science Festival. This event was created by The Franklin Institute presented by Dow Chemical Company.

The entire mission of the weeklong event is to make science fun and accessible. The events I attended were all designed to entertain but also showcase innovation, technology and knowledge related to all aspects of science.

Out4STEM Presents LGBTQ in STEM: A Panel Discussion – Thursday April 28th

This was a fantastic discussion and networking event held at The Mutter Museum. A multi-racial multifaceted panel of science and math experts spoke about the many issues of being a member of the LGBTQ community focusing on STEM careers and studies. They spoke about their personal experiences, their overall hopes and goals for their community as well as their field.

Highlights:

– Discussions on how many opportunities are available in America that did not exist at all in other states.
– The Need for a space online to reach LGBTQ youth and adults that have not been able to move to more liberal places and helping mentor them online.
– The hope that the way LGBTQ families are discussed in workplaces changes from a unique experience to one of normalcy.
– Working to make the necessary changes to simple things that make all families feel included at work. From things like simple forms to water cooler conversations and discussions on paternity and maternity leave.
– That the LGB part of the group seems to have made some incredible strides but everyone expressed fear for the TQ portion of the spectrum.
– The discussion that all minorities, need more representation in STEM.

The speakers offered themselves up as possible contacts and mentors for everyone in attendance. Giving advice and sharing their knowledge.

This was an amazing event because everyone who came seemed to have someone there that was willing to listen to them and some genuine connections for the academic and business worlds were made at the event.

I would love to see more events like this for urban youth as well as women.

Overall a highly recommended event for anyone who is LGBTQ and interested in a career in the STEM fields.

(NPR Boston) You’re The Expert – Thursday April 28th

Live taping of a new radio show/podcast at The Fels Planetarium at The Franklin Institute which pairs a panel of comedians with a scientific expert. This live improv game show is designed to discover the field of study of the guest scientist and then explore the more interesting aspects of their research.

The guest scientist during the 9pm session of the event was Kenneth Lacovara of Rowan University. Kenneth is the discoverer of the largest dinosaur currently known the Dreadnaughtus. There was a lot of information gleaned from the questions of the comedians.

Highlights:

– Kenneth was for a year in his life the house drummer for the Golden Nugget Hotel in Atlantic City.

– He gave a TED Talk recently and received a standing ovation from everyone in the room except Harrison Ford. He stared Harrison Ford down until he got up to join the rest of the room.

– Although he has been reached out to by numerous media outlets to comment on Jurassic World’s scientific inaccuracies and fantasies… he does not dislike Jurassic Park/World. He is older so his influences are different but most of the researchers younger than he is learned their love of dinosaurs by watching that film and he appreciates how the sequel may be doing the same for other children now. In fact he’s more uncomfortable knocking the films because they do so much to get people interested in his field.

– The Dreadnaughtus spent multiple years in his lab and is now currently back in Argentina where it was discovered. He is helping create an exhibit for the dinosaur.

– Two glues for fossils are Paleo Bond and Jurassic Gel… Those are actual name brands.

– His mother once kept a broadway audition from him to keep him focused on science.

– He was injured during the preparation for travel stage of his excavation. The Femur of the Dreadnaughtus swung into and broke his ribs.

The show itself is really intriguing and the questions were often fun and inventive.

Science After Hours – Friday April 29th

The closing night party of The Philadelphia Science Festival was held at The Franklin Institute as part of their Science After Hours event series. These are adults only themed evening events where participants can enjoy many of the museum’s exhibitions along with added entertainment and alcohol. The theme was The Nerd Olympics. Attendees were encouraged to wear costumes and nerdy outfits.

The event allows entry to nearly every available exhibit with the exception of The Science of Pixar and while the Planetarium was open it was being utilized as a concert venue. We saw the Brain exhibition, climbed through a neural network jungle gym, and played dozens of visual, audio and smell related puzzles.

In the Train Room exhibit we saw locomotives, digitally designed trains, explored the engineering car and danced on a train platform because the space was also being utilized as a Silent Disco. i.e. A dance party where everyone wears wireless headphones and can listen to three different music stations, someone next to you could be dancing to classic rock while you’re listening to hip-hop.

In the Fels Planetarium, Star Trek themed band The Roddenberrys were performing to a pretty packed audience. The show had video references along with songs like, “I’m a Skywalkwer (parody of I’m a Girlwatcher).

We climbed into Fighter Jets, walked through a Giant Heart and created circuits in the Electricity exhibit.

The three hour event was definitely not long enough for us to enjoy every one of the permanent exhibits, the digital museum scavenger hunt and unfortunately we missed Franklin: A Nerd’s Musical.

There were game stations to try out Occulus Rift (unfortunately I could not due to an impressively long line) and Life Sized Tetris (you could also play the original version projected onto a large wall).

There were also experiment tables showcasing things like combustion to teach how an engine works. (Really an excuse to make fireballs.)

This event was unbelievably fun and is highly recommended.

The Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival – Saturday April 29th

This event was the grand finale to the week long event. Featuring Hundreds of experiments, games, exhibitions, demos and performances the Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival took over Penn’s Landing. Thousands of participants participated in the event where they were able to go hands on with everything from a Boeing Drone platform (minus the proprietary electronics), to Occulus Rift, to an Electric Race Car designed by an award winning team from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Franklin Institute put on a performance creating liquid nitrogen explosions, there were bands that played songs about learning and entomologists dressed as bugs. If it sounds like this was an event designed for kids you’re right, but kids of all ages and sizes were in attendance.

Lessons were taught in fun ways using chemistry like magic or biology as the basis of superheroes’ abilities and there were serious discussions about the future of energy, climate change and extinction.

It was hard to see and do everything at an event this size but that was part of what made it so satisfying.

As a family event or an event for interested adults The Carnival capped off an amazing week of making science more accessible, fun and cool. I look forward to more events next year.

Mr. Khon

On a personal note I’ve been thinking about writing articles for the site again for some time. I’m thankful if you’ve come back after some time away and if you’re new here welcome. I’ll keep this going as long as life and Joey V will let me.

Mr. Khon

Our own version of The Illusive Man, Mr. Khon's identity is kept secret until he sells a screenplay. Once that happens, he's taking us all to the big time.

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