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Science City gives all ages a chance to see what science is all about

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Madeleine Viceconte | The Daily Wildcat Volunteers encourage children and their families to interact with the many exhibits as part of the science city experience at the tenth annual Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday March 10.

Science City is one of the largest attractions at the Tucson Festival of Books, and its goal is to show that public science is for everyone, not just researchers in lab coats. 

At the 2019 Festival of Books, Science City will offer over 100 hands-on learning activities, science demonstrations, tours of various University of Arizona laboratories and public-friendly talks by renowned science researchers and authors.

“Science City has really become a destination within the festival for science lovers of all ages and education levels to come and participate,” said Lisa Romero, Science City executive committee co-chair and senior director of communications for BIO5. 

With Science City’s variety of public-friendly activities, it makes science accessible and engaging for everyone.

“Outreach is definitely part of Science City’s mission,” Romero said. “We want to give back to our community, let people know across Arizona what science is going on at the UA and really diversify our audience and have something for everyone.”

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New and exciting Science City events for 2019 include a shark exhibit and show at the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium and Strolling Pioneer Scientists, where actresses and actors representing famous scientists, with an emphasis on women and underrepresented minorities, will engage and interact with festival-goers.

Science City was originally created to showcase science to the audience brought in by the Festival of Books, but it has now become one of the most popular locations at the festival. 

“Science City has definitely grown over the years. It first started to capitalize on an audience that was already coming to campus to attend this book festival and showcasing science to them,” Romero said. “Now, 11 years later, Science City has become its own destination for those who are now used to coming to campus during that weekend and seeing a lot of things that aren’t necessarily open.” 

During the Festival of Books, Science City will be holding open houses and tours of some of the UA’s most interesting laboratories and facilities like Flandrau and the Labratory of Tree-Ring Research. New open houses for 2019 include SOCk Student Optics Chapter and the UA Department of Computer Science. 

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

These neighborhoods will showcase interactive demonstrations and engaging hands-on activities from over 80 different groups from across campus and the local science community.

“Science City is such a wonderful thing,” said Maria Schuchardt, tent manager for Science of Tomorrow and program coordinator at the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “We always think of these things as for kids, but it’s for the whole community. There are over 100 different people in these groups across all different kinds of science that you can come and interact with.” 

Along with the many activities aimed at children, Science City partners with the UA Science Cafe to organize talks from UA researchers aimed at adults while still being public-friendly. 

“The UA Science Cafes are held in a way so that laypersons can understand about advances in different science fields,” said Erin Deely, tent manager for Science of You, Science Cafe liaison and director of recruitment and engagement for the College of Science.

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According to Deely, it is important for people to be able to explore science in comfortable settings like Science City and the UA Science Cafes. 

“There is a scientist in all of us. Unfortunately, many people avoid science or math, because they think they are not smart enough, and it’s just not true,” Deely said. “So I like informal settings where people can engage with science in a fun way that is not threatening.”

Science City is free to the public and will take place at the Tucson Festival of Books March 2-3 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information on Science City’s events and schedule, visit the Science City  website.


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