After visiting a science festival at the University of Cambridge, Renee Leone wanted to bring the same opportunities to explore and discuss scientific interests to MSU’s campus.
Leone, a teacher at Montessori Elementary Classrooms, drafted her own proposal for an MSU Science Festival and presented her vision directly to the faculty at various MSU colleges. The MSU Science Festival debuted in 2013 and will return for its third year on April 15.
“There are only about three dozen festivals of this size in the United States,” Leone said. “To have this at MSU is something that everyone here should be proud of.”
For the first year of the festival, events were focused mostly on MSU’s campus and marketed towards families and students in the immediate area. Moving forward, the festival continues to branch out and reach other communities with the hopes to bring free events across the entire state.
Detroit Day, which will be held on April 19, features a full afternoon of programming located in Detroit, with members of the MSU scientific committee making presentations and giving museum tours to members of the public.
All events are free and open to the public but the organizers of the MSU Science Festival hope to engage young students specifically and encourage them to become life-long learners.
“We see this as a celebration of science for people of all ages,” said Carla Hills, communications manager for the MSU Science Festival. “Some people don’t realize that if they like sports, music, video games, or art they are seeing the effects of science.”
Hosting such an event on a university campus offers unique opportunities for presentations and discussion. Leone is proud the festival lets MSU students share their work, as students are invited to volunteer and present during the week. The MSU Science Theatre has participated in the event previously and several doctoral students hold discussions to share information about important research issues in the science community.
“It is important to understand dimensions of science that affect us everyday like recycling,” Leone said. “Some people find it hard to make time to discover something new and this festival is a way to do that and have fun.”
Entertainment and education events mix during the MSU Science Festival, with several of the major programming events geared towards K-12 students. Some presentations will be held in local public schools, with the hopes to engage more than 31,000 young learners.
A major goal of the MSU Science Festival is that enthusiastic young people find support to make decisions based on their interests in science. The programming offers an exploration of the diversity of careers, interests and hobbies in fields of science and engineering.
Adults and college students are also encouraged to participate and continue their interests in science and any member of the public is welcome to attend.
The university has the infrastructure in place, so it’s not difficult for us to use those same resources for guests,” said MSU spokesperson Jason Cody. “I see it as a win-win situation - groups are able to use our facilities for their events and at the same time, MSU gets to show off its campus to prospective students, families and possibly donors.”
Full lists of event programming and schedules are available on the festival’s website or located in several buildings across the university.
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