Science to Be a Big Hit at Discovery Day at AT&T Park

Sixth Annual Bay Area Science Festival Will Transform the Park into Field of Science Dreams

By Laura Kurtzman

More than 35,000 kids, teens and parents will unleash their inner scientist at the Bay Area Science Festival’s 6th annual Discovery Day at AT&T Park on Nov. 5, 2016, by racing robots, undergoing astronaut training, encountering a self-driving “Back to the Future” DeLorean, and being inspired by scientists engineering the next medical cure. The goal of the free event is to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and technologists.

“If we can spark a child’s curiosity in science by making it fun, surprising and engaging, and show how it’s used in everyday life to solve problems, there’s a great chance to inspire a career in those fields,” said Dan Lowenstein, MD, UCSF executive vice chancellor and provost. “AT&T Park will be a field of dreams for our future professionals in the areas of health, medicine, engineering, technology and biotechnology.”

The festival, produced by the Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) at UCSF and a core group of science institutions, is hosted by Bay Area universities, museums, cultural institutions, corporations and government agencies. Chevron is the presenting sponsor. More than 150 hands-on science exhibits, games, experiments and shows at Discovery Day will help to achieve the Festival’s mission of celebrating the Bay Area’s scientific wonders, resources and opportunities by exploring the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Inspiring the next generation of scientists has never been more important,” said SEP co-director Rebecca Smith. Twenty percent of all U.S. jobs – 26 million positions – require knowledge in at least one science, technology, engineering or mathematics field, according to a Brookings Institution study. By 2022, the U.S. will need more than 9 million STEM professionals, according to US2020, which works with companies and nonprofits to recruit STEM mentors.

Ruben Rodriguez, a member of the Richmond High School Robotics Team in the East Bay, is preparing a robot at the Richmond FabLab that will be shown off at the Chevron STEM Zone at the event. The Richmond FabLab gives students and the community hands-on experience working with tools, machinery and technology used in STEM-related industries. “Being able to participate in robotics has helped me realize the kinds of things I am capable of creating and the multiple careers awaiting,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t think of another program that offers a similar or better experience than this one, especially in the field of STEM.”

The Discovery Day exhibits at AT&T Park will be on every level, with most on the field. They include:

  • Chevron’s STEM Zone: an interactive exhibit that allows visitors of all ages to see how STEM is connected to everyday life, which also includes participation from nonprofits like TechBridge and Project Lead the Way to help lead some of the hands-on activities.
  • SEP and UCSF exhibits: an opportunity to join scientists and doctors to learn about the inner works of the eye and brain, touch a human heart, see how to stabilize a spine fracture, see how vein illuminator shows the inside of a body, and learn the difference between medicine and candy based on its appearance.
  • Facebook, partnering with StreetCode Academy and the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco: this exhibit encourages students to pursue STEM education through two experiences that will explore the power of virtual reality and molecular bonding. Also, onsite will be an “Inner Scientist” mini-room for students to gather for photos to celebrate Discovery Day.
  • Willie Mays Plaza: the Park’s entrance will be overrun by robots of all shapes and sizes at a hands-on exhibit by the Bosh Family Foundation and Silicon Valley Robotics.

“Chevron is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Bay Area Science Festival for the sixth consecutive year, which showcases innovation and ingenuity within our Bay Area communities,” said Joe Naylor, Chevron vice president, Policy, Government and Public Affairs. “We hope our support of STEM education inspires young people to consider careers in these fields and become the engineers and innovators of the future.”

“Today’s schoolchildren are our future neuroscientists, oncologists, geneticists and cancer researchers,” said UCSF’s Lowenstein. “The fields of biology, genetics and pharmacology are evolving rapidly, and the opportunity to make advances in therapies for challenging diseases has never been greater. This is an exciting time for children to be immersed in all the health sciences have to offer.”

Discovery Day at AT&T Park is the last of 35 events held throughout the Bay Area over 10 days. Events included Discovery Days in the North and East Bay, provocative talks with Mythbuster Adam Savage, a race of electric vehicles, a balloon launch to space to study climate change, and one session that had elementary school kids challenging scientists to explain their research.

In addition to UC San Francisco and Chevron, some of the many sponsors include Bosch, Clorox, Facebook, Google, Keysight Technologies, Oracle, Toyota, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Cal State East Bay, California Academy of Sciences, and NASA Ames Research Center. UCSF’s SEP, the festival producer, was founded in 1987 by UCSF scientists Bruce Alberts and David Ramsey and is recognized internationally for promoting partnership between scientists and educators in support of high quality science education for K-12 students.

Photographs are available for download here.

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.