From STEM to flower: Science City brings public-friendly science to the Festival of Books

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Jen Pimentel | The Daily Wildcat Kids making crafts at the Tucson Festival of Books on the UA Mall. Families can explore the intersection of art and science at the UA Museum of Art's Family Day on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m.

Science City is returning to the Tucson Festival of Books to show the public that what our elementary teachers told us is true: we are all scientists.

For nine years Science City, sponsored by the University of Arizona College of Science and the BIO5 Institute, has brought interactive, public-friendly science to the Tucson community during the Festival of Books.

“[Science City is] a celebration of all of the different science and STEM-related exciting things going on at the U of A and allowing the public of all ages … to come on down to campus,” said Lisa Romero, Science City executive committee co-chair and senior director of communications for BIO5. “We showcase science in every way you could imagine.”

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With over 80 participating groups, virtually all scientific disciplines are covered from astronomy to neuroscience to entomology and many more. While many of the groups are UA affiliated, several groups come from outside the university to participate in the event, such as the Vatican Observatory and 500 Women Scientists. 

Science City is organized into six tent neighborhoods: Science in Art, Science of Everyday Life, Science of Food, Science of Natural World, Science of Tomorrow and Science of You. 

Each neighborhood specializes in a unique aspect of science and features hands-on activities, live demonstrations and knowledgeable volunteers ready to answer people’s questions. 

“The really wonderful thing about Science City is the personal interactions between the public and scientists/researchers,” said Maria Schuchardt, tent manager for Science of Tomorrow. “Most scientists at Science City have been doing outreach for a long time and have ways of communicating concepts to the novice and expert. All questions are welcomed.”

These tents allow visitors to see how science is present in so many aspects of our lives from the food we eat to the art we enjoy, and not just as an abstract concept in a classroom or laboratory.

“Most of the time people are not aware of the impact that science has in our lives, so this tent is about how, in reality, we live science everyday,” said Daniela Cabrera, tent manager for Science of Everyday Life.

In addition to the neighborhoods, Science City also features the Science Cafe where UA researchers give presentations and answer audience questions, and the Science Stage which features various authors, panels and informative shows. Topics this year include the recently returned de Kooning painting and the science of dessert.

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This year special guests include former X Games champion John Parker who will present a special called BMX: Physics in Motion and former NASA astronaut leland Melvin.

New this year is the Science City passport. In celebration of the Festival of Books' 10th anniversary, visitors are encouraged to pick up a passport and explore 10 special places around Science City. By filling out the passport, visitors can earn a prize.

The passport should give visitors a chance to explore a good variety of all the activities that Science City has to offer. 

“Honestly … every year it’s just really neat to see it come together,” Romero said. “We are really proud of this event and we love that the community comes and has fun and leaves excited about things that are going on here at U of A.”


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