First Bay Area Science Festival Draws Thousands

By Lisa Cisneros on November 08, 2011

More than 21,000 people converged at San Francisco's AT&T Park on Sunday during the grand finale of the first annual Bay Area Science Festival, a spectacularly successful community outreach event sponsored in part by UCSF.

Nico Chou, 6, and his brother Tobey, 3

Nico Chou, 6, and his brother Tobey, 3, dance and stomp their feet to make sound vibration during an interactive performance by the Physics Circus at the Bay Area Science Festival Discovery Day at AT&T Park.

The free science extravaganza billed as Discovery Day showcased the pure fun of science with a non-stop program of more than 170 interactive exhibits, experiments, games and shows.

UCSF's Bruce Alberts, PhD, professor emeritus, spearheaded the festival in San Francisco, one of four cities in the country to receive a National Science Foundation grant to produce a science festival this year.

As co-founder of the Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP), a 24-year-old collaboration between UCSF and the San Francisco Unified School District to support quality science education for K-12 students, Alberts has devoted his long scientific career to improving science learning and teaching. The former president of the National Academy of Sciences and editor of the journal Science thanked the many volunteers from UCSF and elsewhere who helped make the festival a success.

Aidan Alberts, Bruce Alberts and David Perlman

From left, Aidan Alberts, Bruce Alberts and San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor David Perlman talk at Discovery Day at AT&T Park, the final event of the Bay Area Science Festival.

Among those deserving extra credit for orchestrating the 10-day Bay Area Science Festival is UCSF's Kishore Hari, PhD, who directed the festival as part of his work at SEP.

"This shows that there is a huge appetite for science and technology education," he said. "It's the job of those of us who teach and those who legislate to feed that hunger."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee stood near home plate at AT&T Park to declare it "Bay Area Science Festival Day."

Along with the 50,000 attendees from events earlier this week throughout the Bay Area, including a free series of talks at UCSF, more than 70,000 people participated in what organizers are declaring the largest science festival of its type in the U.S. The Bay Area Science Festival encompassed more than 100 mostly free events involving dozens of organizations and partners in Northern California from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, 2011.

Birgit Cory and sons Eliot Stein, 5, and Joad Stein, 8

Birgit Cory, an ESL teacher and housewife, took a break to bask in the intermittent sunshine with her sons Eliot Stein, 5, and Joad Stein, 8, at the Bay Area Science Festival at AT&T Park on Sunday.

Malia Cohen, Jeff Bluestone, Mayor Ed Lee, Kishore Hari and Hydra Mendoza

From left, San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, District 10, Jeff Bluestone, PhD, executive vice chancellor and provost at UCSF, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Kishore Hari, director of the Bay Area Science Festival, and Hydra Mendoza, the Mayor's Education Advisor at City and County of San Francisco, pose with the certificate proclaiming November 6th as "Bay Area Science Festival Day."

Children enjoy Discovery Day at AT&T Park.

Children are attentive as Lynn Hague, of the American Chemical Society, shows them a series of experiments at the Discovery Day at AT&T Park.

Photos by Susan Merrell