Philadelphia Science Festival organizers have questions – lots of questions. So as they announce dates for the third annual event and more than 100 programs in April 2013, they decided to explore potential answers. After all, they’re not the only ones who want to know what makes clothing “sweat proof,” why Philly soft pretzels taste so darn good and even how ancient Egyptians mummified their deceased.
The result is a social media campaign leading up to the 3rd Annual Philadelphia Science Festival April 18-28. The campaign will kick off early next year and relies on world renowned experts from within the Festival’s core collaborating institutions – experts like Robert Hicks, Ph.D., director of the Mütter Museum, and Stephen Phillips, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology – to answer those questions. The scientific experts lend their insight to a series of online videos being rolled out through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest with the hash tag #BeCurious. The videos will also be a key component of the Festival’s new website and blog slated to launch early next year.
“The premise behind the Science Festival is to engage all Philadelphians, people who don’t necessarily consider themselves scientists in the traditional sense,” said Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute, which organizes the Philadelphia Science Festival. “We want everyone to look at the world around us, at what we eat, drink, read and watch everyday with a sense of curiosity. To realize that others are just as curious and that it’s possible that we might wonder about the same things. Together, we can discover the answers, tapping into some of the best minds in the world right here in Philadelphia. Hopefully, the conversations we start during these 10 days each April will fuel our collective curiosity for years to come.”
Since its founding in 2011, the Philadelphia Science Festival – one of the first of its kind in the nation – has brought together more than 250 new partnerships and collaborations, taking science out of the classroom and into restaurants, museums, libraries, galleries and even onto street corners. More than 120,000 people (including an estimated 30,000+ students) have participated in programs, most of them free or offered at cost, in the first two years. Festival organizers expect exponential growth as the concept catches on. When it first started, the idea of a citywide science celebration was unheard of in mainstream America, although it’s a growing trend in Europe, Wint said.
A complete list of Festival events will be available in February at philasciencefestival.org, but below is a sampling of the signature programs already confirmed.
— Science Carnival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Saturday, April 20 10am-4pm
A free outdoor carnival on the Parkway, featuring more than 100 hands-on interactive activities,
science-themed performances and demonstrations that the whole family can enjoy. FREE
— Icarus at the Edge of Time (Philadelphia Premiere)
Wednesday, April 24 at 8pm | The Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall
The Festival and PIFA partner up to “reach for the stars” in the Philadelphia premiere of Icarus at the Edge of Time, a whirlwind journey through space and time – to the very edge of understanding. A futuristic update of the Greek myth, Icarus at the Edge of Time is based on the children’s book by Brian Greene, America's best-selling and most visible physicist. Now set in outer space, the story focuses on a boy who challenges the awesome might of a black hole. It comes alive in Verizon Hall accompanied by stunning multimedia works and the vibrant sound of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. ($)
— Beer Chemistry: Perfect Pairings
Friday, April 26 at 7pm | Yards Brewing Company
We all love a cold one, but what makes an IPA different from a saison? The Yards brewmasters show you the chemistry behind some of our favorite brews and the science behind the flavors. Afterward, the experience continues in the Yards Tasting Room with six beer and food pairings specifically selected for their properties. The only caveat? Guests must be 21 or older. ($)
— Murder at the Mütter™: Outbreak!
Friday, April 26 at 7pm | The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
The third iteration of this real-life whodunit! Local forensic experts help you decipher clues and analyze data to solve the mystery of a hypothetical outbreak – all while learning about the life and skills of a crime scene investigator. ($)
Saturday, April 27 from 10am to 2pm | Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
In recognition of Earth Day, this is a celebration of all things natural. Get down and dirty with familyfriendly explorations, citizen science projects, environmental art, games and story times. Plus, the Pavilion Stage will feature a lively and entertaining mix of live music, animal shows, poetry and special guests – and there’s even a native plant sale.
— Science of Play Discovery Day
Saturday, April 27 from 10am to 4pm | Please Touch Museum
Playing is science? You betcha. “Playing around” with ideas is critical to discovery, and young children – with their limitless curiosity and love of play and exploration – make excellent scientists. We’ll introduce kids to the process of scientific inquiry using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) principles found in toys, animals, art and the natural world. Come join the Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum, and other kid-focused organizations as we host a day of science and play for the smallest scientists in the city!
— The Morgue the Merrier: The Science of the Living Dead
Saturday, April 27 at 6pm | Laurel Hill Cemetery
Join Dr. Steven Scholzman, author of the “Zombie Autopsies,” and discover how we have defined “dead” and “alive” throughout history, take part in a body part scavenger hunt and check out a live zombie autopsy. Afterwards, party like the living dead with refreshments, drinks and zombie activities!
The Festival coincides with The Franklin Institute Awards Week, which each year honors pioneers in science, technology and business leadership. Continuing its nearly 200 year old legacy of bringing the world’s most influential scientists to Philadelphia to be recognized for their extraordinary achievements (think Einstein, Curie, and Hawking), The Franklin Institute Awards is among the oldest and most widely known awards programs in science. Among the eight recipients being honored on Thursday, April 25 are: Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Inc., who helped revolutionize personal computing, making it accessible to the masses; William Labov, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, who established the cognitive basis of language variation and change and has studied non-standard dialects; and Subra Suresh, Sc.D., director of the National Science Foundation, for helping change our understanding of how materials behave and whose research also showed how deformation of biological cells can be linked to diseases.
The Laureates – both past and present – will be in Philadelphia between April 22 and April 26 and will participate in a series of lectures, panels and hands-on demonstrations as well as in specific Festival programming.
“Connecting today’s leading scientific minds with the Philadelphia community – to have them work and play alongside each other for a few days – is exactly the kind of accessible science that would make our namesake, Benjamin Franklin, proud,” said Wint. “Through their remarkable accomplishments, in an array of disciplines, each laureate has positively impacted the quality of human life and deepened our understanding of the universe.”
In addition to these programs, there will be special celebrations in 15 Free Library branch locations as part of PSF’s Neighborhood Science Afterschool initiative. The 2013 Festival will close with Discovery Weekend, featuring six events taking place in neighborhood parks, recreation centers, and gardens, with hands-on, interactive activities designed to engage communities in the science taking place where they live.
About The Franklin Institute
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. For more information, visit www.fi.edu.
About the Philadelphia Science Festival
One of the first celebrations of its kind in the country, the Philadelphia Science Festival is a 10-day celebration of science and technology in everyday places – parks, restaurants, bars, libraries and museums. It asks Philadelphians to question the world around them and aims to inspire not only the next generation of scientists and engineers, but also create homegrown citizen scientists. More than 105 partners are working together to produce the Festival, which runs April 18-28 is presented by The Dow Chemical Company and organized by The Franklin Institute. To learn more, visit PhilaScienceFestival.org or call 215-448-1128.