The MSU Science Festival is bringing a month-long, statewide celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to campus starting on April 1. Fully back in-person for the first time in three years, the festival will open with a weekend of hands-on activities from creating custom bath bombs to building your own battery.
The festival’s opening weekend is marked by two on-campus expo days featuring demonstrations, activities and tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 1 and 2. Events are spread out over campus and are free and open to the public.
Science Festival coordinator Katherine Hagman said the festival will be “taking over the STEM teaching and learning facility” with over 100 activities and demonstrations. There will be programs for children as well as adults.
Some activities require pre-registration including a tour of the Red Cedar Riverbank, a community art project through the MSU Museum, a tour of the Beal Botanical Garden, an MSU Native Tree walk, a text-to-sound artificial intelligence workshop and an ethnobotany tour.
Second-year PhD student and science festival public programs assistant Hazel Anderson organized many of the public events that will be featured during the expo weekend. She encouraged students of all disciplines to explore the festival and learn something new.
“It's just really fascinating to see what people are passionate about,” Anderson said. “What research they're doing, how that impacts you in ways you didn't even think about.”
Throughout the entire month, community members can participate in BioBlitz, a community-led biodiversity survey. BioBlitz is completed through the app or website iNaturalist. Using the app or website, participants can visit partnering parks or nature centers and document animals and plants they find.
Participating locations can be found at the Science Festival website and include locations across the state along with MSU-specific areas. In addition to encouraging community members to explore nature, the data collected is used for biodiversity research, Anderson said.
“As a user, it's really fun to see what's around you and learn more about the species that you might just walk past every day,” Anderson said.
While this year is the 11th annual festival, it is the first year to feature a dedicated Earth Day celebration on April 22. The festival has introduced a statewide “Earth Day Extravaganza,” with events across the state from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., including several on-campus activities.
Earth Day celebrations on-campus will include a biosystems and agricultural engineering open house, a tour of vernal pools at the Baker Woodlot, an interactive linocut prints and poetry workshop at the MSU Museum and an MSU Recycling “Earth Day bash.”
Activities are scheduled throughout the day on April 22 in Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Laingsburg and Manchester including community cleanups and guided BioBlitz hikes. Several of the service events and guided hikes require pre-registration through the Science Festival website.
Other festival events include Night at the Museums with the MSU Museum and Broad Art Museum on April 14, Campfire Science on April 15 and a state-wide astronomy night on April 29. At MSU, astronomy night in the Abrams Planetarium will feature musical performances.
“Don't be afraid to come out,” Hagman said. “This is not just for kids. It really is a great exciting event and you'll definitely find events that you'll enjoy. Everything is free and there's something every week.”
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