27 April 2012

Pickelodeon: Philadelphia Science Festival 2012

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Philadelphia Science Festival 2012

If you have not been to a Philadelphia Science Festival event, you are missing out. Learning about chemistry and mechanics with beer, using comedy to discuss sexual impulses and food cravings, discussing instinct and survival in the context of a zombie apocalypse, speed dating, scavenger hunts, quizzo, and more make this fest unlike any science classroom you could imagine. The Philadelphia Science Festival is so cool that this is the second time we're reviewing it! (You can check out last year's preview here and the review here)

The 2012 Festival built upon the success of last year's extravaganza and the entire year of planning that went into this event shows. The Franklin Institute staff that run the Festival have outdone themselves and set the bar high for the 2013 event, assuming the aforementioned zombie apocalypse doesn't happen before then. Let's take a look at a few events that have stood out from this year's festival.

Mix It Opening Night Party
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat
Frankford Hall played host to Opening Night this year with a huge kickoff party. This party marked the official debut of Yards Brewery's 2012 Science Festival beer, a tasty Weizenbock known as Atom Blonde. Party-goers were also treated to a couple of quick lectures and the single coolest game of beer pong ever thought up, courtesy of the Franklin Institute's prototyping team.Competitors battled it out in front of a giant screen that allowed them to play the classic video game using their QR coded beer mugs as controllers. Amidst the beer, tubular meats, and giant video games, the enthusiasm for science learning was growing as anticipation for the rest of the fest grew.

Science is everywhere
Science Carnival on the Parkway
Last year's Science Carnival on the Parkway fell on a gloomy, rainy day. Such was not the case this year. A sunny, summeresque Saturday afternoon served as the perfect environment for the Carnival. With over 100 exhibitors presenting a steady stream of science demonstrations, there was something for everyone. The Harriton High School Science Club had a radio that projected sound through the vibrations of a lollipop in your mouth. Presenters from the Franklin Institute made liquid nitrogen ice cream,made fire dance to music,  and blew stuff up. The Museum of Elfreth's Alley had people happily digging through trash. A giant model of a carbon nanotube swayed in the breeze. All in the name of science!

Love, Sex, Death (and Food): A Historical Look at the Science that Drives Us
Seriously, click on the hysteria link. It's hysterical.
The title of this Thursday evening event was all the convincing I needed. Though it fell on the same evening as the Science of Death with the Mutter Museum at Laurel Hill Cemetary and A Nerd's Guide to the Apocalypse at Frankford Hall, this lecture at the Chemical Heritage Foundation won out. Expecting a lecture, you can imagine my surprise when the event ended up being a joint demonstration between distinguished scientists and local comedians. What resulted was an event that was absolutely bananas, but comedy gold. From medieval women birthing dead cats to doctors with diddling digits to the funniest fruit in the world to unusual uses for a toothbrush, attendees learned a lot more than they were expecting at this event. Strange as all of that may sound, the Franklin Institute ended up stealing the show by displaying an early 20th Century electric vibrator that was intended to cure female issues such as depression, anxiety, and hysteria. Imagine, if you can, scientists presenting this information and comedians providing their own interpretations. It was so funny that three different comedians approached the gang from my table to thank us for laughing so hard and to invite us to future events at the Philly Improv Theater.

This is just a small sample of the events that I personally attended this year. There is so much more that the Philadelphia Science Festival has to offer, and you still have a few days to check it out! To miss out on this epic event would be a massive disservice to yourself. Swing by the Science Fest website to check out the events calendar and experience science like you never have before!

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