To kick off the 2012 N.C. Science Festival, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, a group at UNC-Chapel Hill, launched a near-space “weather balloon” from the grounds of the Executive Mansion in Raleigh. Students from a nearby grade school cheered as the balloon soared into the sky and disappeared from sight.
SEDS members expected their balloon to land east of Raleigh, where they could easily retrieve it. But stronger-than-expected winds made their project race toward the Atlantic. With just miles to spare, GPS indicated it had landed in distant Carteret County, just shy of the Outer Banks. Someone from the Division of Marine Fisheries pulled it from the North River – slightly soggy but its data intact.
Among the lessons learned: Science and technology can be fun.
That takeaway is why the statewide festival, April 10-26 this year, now includes about 800 events, half at K-12 schools and half geared to the general public. Events are scheduled in 95 of the state’s 100 counties, in venues as disparate as Elk Knob State Park and university lecture halls. Many are family friendly and free.
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Here’s a sample of festival events in this area. Check www.ncsciencefestival.org for details on more events.
P.S. One of the students involved in the 2012 balloon launch is today a software engineer at Moon Express, a Silicon Valley firm with the long-range goal of mining rare elements found on the moon.
At Dr. Bob’s Sonic Workshop, staffers with the Bob Moog Foundation (www.moogfoundation.org) will lead an interactive presentation for ages 7-13 using its SoundSchool curriculum and custom graphic animations to teach children about vibrations, sound travel, waveforms, pitch and amplitude. The event, drawing on the legacy of synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, will be 2-3 and 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Charlotte’s ImaginOn, 300 E. Seventh St. Free, but registration is required by 3 p.m. April 10.
Earth Day 2015: Homegrown at Gastonia’s Schiele Museum of Natural History celebrates Earth Day with hands-on activities, games and crafts focused on native plants and animals found in your backyard. Enjoy live music from local musicians, taste food grown locally, and connect with environmental organizations. It’s 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Schiele, 1500 E. Garrison Blvd.; participation is free with paid admission. Details: www.schielemuseum.org.
New Trends in Gaming is where teens can explore technology through video gaming with a variety of games and consoles or learn to create games of their own. It’s free, 2:30-3:30 p.m. at Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Drive, Charlotte. Details: www.cmlibrary.org.
It’s Free Day at the Carolina Raptor Center, 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can take a self-guided tour; birds will be there for viewing and interacting. Details: www.carolinaraptorcenter.org.
At the Carolinas STEM Conference, teachers – pre-K to 12th grade – can learn about 3-D printing, participate in hands-on science and engineering projects and discover how the “make” movement can support classroom instruction. It’s 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Discovery Place Education Studio, 300 N. Poplar St., Charlotte. Admission: $50; registration limited to the first 120 participants. Details: www.educationstudio.org.
At Rube Goldberg Machines, adults and kids can build complicated contraptions that can accomplish tasks as simple as rolling a ball or flipping a light switch. All supplies will be provided at this free event 6-8 p.m. at the Cabarrus County Public Library at 850 Mountain St., Kannapolis. (Younger than 10 must be accompanied by an adult.) Details: www.cabarruscounty.us.
The UNC Charlotte Science and Technology Expo features more than 100 science and technology activities, demonstrations, games and entertainment – including robotics, weird physics, chemistry demos, interactive computer activities, rocketry, live animals, strange plants, fire engines, boats and drones – presented by UNCC faculty, staff and students and community organizations. The free event is noon-4 p.m. at UNCC’s Lower Campus Mall, Student Union and surrounding buildings. Details: www.ncsciencefestival.uncc.edu.
N.C. Science Festival
All the details – including day-to-day schedules of events across the state – are at www.ncsciencefestival.org.