MSU’s Science Festival is returning for its ninth year to bring a free, virtual celebration for all science lovers.
During April 1-30, MSU will host over 200 digital presentations for all ages about topics ranging from music to neuroscience. This extravaganza emphasizes the ways science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or STEAM, affect our everyday lives and shape our future.
The festival strives to educate and inspire future generations to pursue opportunities in STEAM and allows attendees to explore their science interests, said Roxanne Truhn, MSU Science Festival coordinator. “By coming to the festival, you can see what the future of computing will look like with quantum computers, or you can learn about how to grow a bird-friendly yard to feed the birds in your area. It’s just a way for you to learn more about your environment, how it will impact you and how you can impact the environment.”
Over 70 MSU units alongside community partners, including the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Detroit Zoo and Potter Park Zoo, will be educating the community about topics like Michigan butterflies, medical racism, starting an educational podcast, plants that are toxic to pets and more. The festival will also feature experiments and virtual tours.
After COVID-19 restrictions began last March, MSU’s 2020 Science Festival was canceled. However, the festival team pulled together a mini, virtual event that featured around 40 presentations. It was then that the team realized a virtual format made the festival more accessible to people who don’t live in the mid-Michigan area and used the opportunity to develop this year’s festival, where attendees can enjoy the entire event from home.
“If anything, what the pandemic has shown us is that science is really important to us,” Truhn said. “That's why I do what I do: I want people to trust science and understand that science is a continuing process.”
And this year, the festival team is offering more science resources for K-12 students. Michigan teachers can now sign up for over 50 free virtual programs that teach students science topics via demonstrations, interactive talks and virtual tours. The festival is also piloting its Foldscope Program for Lansing School District, where sixth-grade teachers can sign up to receive handheld microscopes to give to their students to explore their environment.
Through the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, the Science Festival received the Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant, which provided the support to start a science communication training program. The MSU Student Science Communication Training Program is an initiative that encourages MSU students of all disciplines and backgrounds to communicate their science interests through training, mentorship and an opportunity to give a presentation at the Science Festival.
“It's a way to empower students to learn how to communicate their science,” Truhn said. “And then, maybe they will empower somebody that looks like them to be a scientist. We hope some young kids out there see [the students] in themselves and say, ‘Hey, if they can do it, I can do it too.’’’
To register for MSU’s Science Festival and see a complete list of presentations, visit sciencefestival.msu.edu.