Making Science Cool: Inspiring Students and Giving Society Something to Celebrate

10/5/09

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schools. Leading scientists spoke at school assemblies describing the field they’re passionate about, the rewards and challenges of their own career path and the opportunities for young people in the sciences (dubbed the “Nifty Fifty” and “Lunch with a Laureate” ).

—Second, we brought students to major science venues throughout the county for hands-on interactive experiments in state-of-the-art research environments, which we dubbed “Science on the Mesa.”

—Third, we brought the public to a series of fun and informal science events with a fun and catchy hook (dubbed, collectively, “Festival Events” with offerings like the Science of Wine, Chemistry of Love, Science of Chocolate, Politics of Science, and 75 others)

—Finally, we brought everyone together in Balboa Park for a major science expo. For this “Woodstock of Science,” 250 organizations presented hands-on interactive activities, exhibits and stage shows geared to the general public.

Here’s my tough grading of these events with a candid discussion of lessons learned and how I will do it differently at our national Science Festival—the USA Science Festival.

Lunch with a Laureate

Grade: A-

2,000 participants

Eight of Southern California’s Nobel Laureates hosted brown bag lunches with groups of 100 students, with an informal Q&A, about their perspectives on the future of science, and the Laureate’s own journey. The Laureates were terrific, bringing science to the kids’ level, personally greeting each student and remaining afterward to sign autographs.. The students and their teachers were asked to prepare questions in advance. We asked the Laureates to confine their opening remarks to five minutes, and to start the discussion with a current hot issue in their field. This program humanized these figures whose careers seem so remote and unattainable.

Nifty Fifty

Grade: B-

40,000 participants

One hundred of San Diego’s leading scientists presented school assemblies at middle and high schools. Many were truly magical, but some fell flat. Commanding … Next Page »

Larry Bock, a biotech entrepreneur and San Diego venture investor, is the founder and organizer of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, set for Washington DC in April 2012. Follow @

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  • http://www.SDSciencefestival.com Jessica McKimmie

    Thanks Larry for all of your drive in 2009. As SD Science Festival Marketing Director, we are pleased to be continuing the work with San Diego to help improve on what was done last year and make this year even better.

    Anyone interested in more information on San Diego Science Festival 2010 check our website at http://www.sdsciencefestival.com, or @sdsciencefest on twitter, or find us on Facebook. We’re excited to keep the momentum going into 2010 and also excited to see how the National Festival in D.C. unfolds. Two great wins for Science!