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What is the Philadelphia Science Festival?

The Philadelphia Science Festival is a ten-day, community-wide celebration of science that takes place annually in April, featuring lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of other informal science education experiences for Philadelphians of all ages.


Photo: Open Lab Day at Philadelphia University


The inaugural Philadelphia Science Festival took place in April 2011 and brought together more than 120,000 to celebrate the region's strength in STEM.

The Philadelphia Science Festival aims to provide opportunities for all Philadelphians to positively engage with and build a community around science, engineering, and technology by showcasing the role that each plays in the city and region.

Working in partnership with civic, academic, scientific, corporate, and community organizations, we aim to develop an annual, sustainable initiative to:

*Create a structure in which every neighborhood of Philadelphia will host engaging high-visibility science programming;

*Engage and excite Philadelphians in the wonders of science and inspire them to interact with science, engineering, and technology events and activities on a regular basis;

*Build community among Philadelphians by creating myriad opportunities for interaction and dialogue about relevant STEM related issues.

The Philadelphia region has long been the birthplace of innovation and continues to be the incubator of countless breakthroughs across the scientific disciplines. Yet, many Philadelphians don’t realize the significant science that surrounds them. In an effort to raise awareness and to engage a wider audience with informal science learning, organizations across the city have united to form the Philadelphia Science Festival leadership team. As a collaboration among organizations of varying size and mission, the Philadelphia Science Festival has become a truly citywide event, with programs and exhibitions taking place throughout the city’s many neighborhoods, fueled by the best scientific and educational resources the region has to offer—all geared towards making science interesting, relevant, and fun.

The science festival idea has been slowly gaining ground across the nation as Americans recognize the need for science education reform in order to maintain international leadership in science, technology, and engineering. In 2009, the Science Festival Alliance received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop, implement, and evaluate the festival model as a strategy for informal science learning. The Science Festival Alliance partners—UC San Diego, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Museum, The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia) and UC San Francisco—were strategically selected to represent major U.S. educational entities on both coasts.

The inaugural Philadelphia Science Festival was a huge success--engaging more than 100,000 participants as well as over 100 partnering organizations. Over 70 new partnerships were created among Festival institutions during the 2011 celebration.

The Philadelphia Science Festival seeks participation by every Philadelphian, most especially K-20 students. Professional scientists, engineers, and technologists from every discipline are invited to volunteer throughout the program. K-12 teachers are integral partners—classroom curriculum and resources are in development to facilitate Festival involvement. The goal is for the Festival to offer something for everyone in hopes of sparking interest and involvement.


 


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0840333. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.