Discovery Days at AT&T Park
The finale at AT&T Park continued to draw huge crowds with over 27,000 attending the 5-hour event. This is a slight dip in attendance, possibly attributable to a World Series bump in 2012.
Attendee ratings have very been consistent over the past three years, Discovery Days drew attendees from virtually every part of the Bay Area, with small
populations coming from as far as Sacramento and Central Valley. This event truly served as a finale for a Bay Area wide celebration of science. Importantly, there were also significant gains in attendee diversity with these numbers rising to match the demographics of San Francisco County – nearly unheard of in terms of traditional large-scale informal science events.
Cutting edge robots overtook Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park. Over 40 robots shook hands, flung frisbees, and climbed walls to the delight of thousands of families. There was a variety of robots on display, ranging from $300 to over $50,000, showcasing the breadth of the robotics community in the Bay Area. UBR-1, a new personal robot from Unbounded Robotics, even cut the ribbon to open the event.
Chevron Science Kits/Family Science Guide
Chevron provided 10,000 take home science kits created by RAFT. Four different kits (circuits, simple telescope, hovercraft, and rockets) covering many basic engineering principles were distributed at both Discovery Days – East Bay and AT&T Park. Each kit was packaged with “Science: It’s a Family Affair”, Techbridge’s family science guide for Bay Area parents. The guide provides advice for encouraging your children in science, and ideas for science museum visits, hands-on activities, and other things you can do as a family.
Discovery Days – North Bay
Discovery Days – North Bay was a smashing success in 2013. Attendance grew by 25% to over 10,000. The numbers of exhibitors doubled, with many of the new exhibitors being local organizations in the North Bay. Trainings were offered to many of these new exhibitors to ensure high quality activities. Attendee diversity continued along trends from 2012 – almost 1/3 of attendees came from historically underrepresented minorities in STEM. This level of ethnic diversity at large-scale STEM events is rare, and is largely attributable to the effort of the North Bay volunteer core team forging community partnerships to engage those communities.
True Community Festival
The initial goal of the North Bay Discovery Day was to establish an annual event that showcases the STEM identity and resources of the North Bay to its residents. After three years, it is clear that this goal is being met. 95% of the exhibitors originated in the North Bay and 90% of attendees came from North Bay counties, primarily Sonoma County. In 2014, there will be a focusing on coalescing the resources on display at the Discovery Day to further reinforce a strong STEM identity in the North Bay.
More than any other Discovery Day, the North Bay event leveraged student to student interactions to support attendee outcomes. Since many booths had limited numbers of scientists and engineers, a number of them augmented activities by utilizing high school students. This student to student pedagogy
seemed to result in a longer dwell time at exhibits and allowed the scientists to interact with more families.
Discovery Days at Cal State East Bay
The Discovery Days event at Cal State East Bay is held every other year; this was the 2nd time the event was part of the Bay Area Science Festival. There were tremendous leaps from 2011 both in attendance and audience rating. An estimated 8,000 attended the celebration which featured over 40 exhibits from CSU East Bay faculty and 10 activities from local East Bay partners. As in 2011, most attendees came from the East Bay, but there was much more representation from across the East Bay. Strong attendance from Fremont and Milipitas complimented greater attendance from Berkeley-Oakland-San Leandro corridor.
Robot Zoo and Chevron Take-and-Make
Robotics took center stage with hands-on activities with Project Lead the Way and Chevron engineers. 2,000 Take-and-Make kits from RAFT were distributed by Chevron volunteers. These kits included engineering activities related to content experience at the event. The “Robot Zoo” was anchored by Project Skye, an inflatable drone blimp sponsored by Swissnex San Francisco.
Radiolab returned to the festival with a new live show “Apocalyptical”. Over 3 nights in Oakland and Cupertino, 8500 attended a show that intermingled music, theaterical performance, and incredible science. This show focused on endings, icnluding an amazing story on the demise of the dinosaurs.
The Moth: The Big Bang
Building on the successful staging of storytelling programs in past festivals, the popular NPR show staged a science themed evening. Over 1500 packed Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley for a staging of 5 stories, including the Mythbusters’ Adam Savage and Christof Koch, the chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science.
Nerd Nite at Sea II: We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat
In 2012, Nerd Nite at Sea was the fastest event to sellout.In 2013, the event was brought aboard the USSHornet, a decommissioned WWII aircraft carrier. This ship retrieved the Apollo 11 capsule from the Pacific upon returning to the Earth; President Nixon met the three Apollo 11 astronauts on the deck of this ship. Given the historic nature of the ship, we brought aboard an Apollo 9 astronaut, dozens of hands-on activities related to marine and space science, and demos of aerial drones from the flight deck. 1000 adults attended the mega event.
Creatures of the NightLife
Each year, the festival takes over the California Academy of Sciences for a Halloween themed science evening for young adults. In 2011 and 2012, the theme was Zombie Science, which evolved into a monster themed evening in 2013. Content grew by almost 6x versus 2012 with the addition of Frankenstein, Vampire, Werewolf, and Giant Squid activity zones. This year’s event featured some of the most advanced hands-on activities of the entire festival. The “Ghost Heart” activity showcased how researchers are dissolving organ tissue, leaving only a architectural scaffold, a first step in developing an artificial organ. Other activities included a Humboldt squid dissection with the Hopkins Marine Lab, blood typing with the Blood Centers of the Pacific, and human brain explorations with UC San Francisco neuroscientists. Alongside these activities, there were numerous talks from local scientists related to the monster zones, makeup artists integrated into an interactive science/art exhibit hosted by Guerilla Science, and even a trip to Bad Science at the Movies. 3500 people attended – the third straight year the event sold out.