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Atlanta Science Festival offers chance for interactive outreach

UPDATE: The Exploration Expo scheduled for Saturday, March 29 has been moved to the Georgia World Congress Center.

"We're building momentum," says Jordan Rose, who is heading up community outreach for the first Atlanta Science Festival, set for March 22-29, 2014. "We have a lot to celebrate in Atlanta and Georgia when it comes to science and innovation.  It's important for the public to be aware of all the activities and career opportunities here related to science, technology, engineering and math."  

Two information sessions about the festival are coming up on the Emory campus, for faculty, staff and students who want to get involved as an exhibitor or as a science ambassador. The first session will be held on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Atwood Building, Room 316. The second session is set for Friday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. in the Whitehead Biomedical Research Center, Room 600.  

The idea for the Atlanta Science Festival was sparked at Emory, says Rose, one of the co-founders of the event and associate director of Emory's Center for Science Education. Joining Emory as founding partners are Georgia Tech and the Metro Atlanta Chamber.   

More than 57 partners will be putting on events at more than 30 locations during the eight-day festival, including lectures, films, performances, exhibits, trivia contests, demonstrations, workshops, guided walks and more.   

Events at Emory will include public talks, tours of labs and LEED-certified buildings, and a special Theater Emory performance.  

The festival will conclude on March 29 with the Exploration Expo in Centennial Olympic Park. "It will be a big, family-friendly science carnival," Rose says.  

About 100 exhibits, activities, demonstrations and performances are expected for the Expo, and the organizers are accepting proposals for booths through Dec. 13. "We'd really like to see a strong Emory presence," Jordan says. "We're hoping for lots of hands-on activities, geared toward kids of different ages, that directly connect to Emory research."  

He notes that Emory exhibitors can apply for special funding being offered through the Center for Science Education and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to cover most of their costs for participating.  

Science students and faculty are also being recruited to visit K-12 classrooms during the festival. "The idea is for scientists to talk to kids about their careers and some of the unsolved questions and problems of the future," Rose says. "We want to inspire the next generation of students to address some of those problems."  

Financial sponsors of the festival include the founding partners, as well as Mercer University, Mercer Health Sciences Center, the Center for Chemical Evolution, Georgia Bio, the Atlanta Science Tavern, Captain Planet Foundation and Women in Technology.  

The Atlanta Science Festival joins a trend for cities across the country holding similar events, including the World Science Festival in New York.  

"The Atlanta festival is unique in its real focus on local resources and expertise," Rose says. "We will also have a strong emphasis on the links between science and the arts," he adds.

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