Atlanta Science Festival announces 2022 return

At a Jan. 31 online news conference, Atlanta Science Festival (ASF) announced that it will return March 12 through 26 with more than 100 in-person and online events. Dubbed “the city’s premier celebration of all things science,” ASF unfolds in partnership with educational, corporate, and recreational entities around the metro Atlanta area, including DeKalb County School District and DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs.

Co-founded by Emory University along with Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the festival is a two-week celebration of science and technology at venues across the metro area. Emory University continues as one of ASF’s principal sponsors.

“Now in our ninth year, the Atlanta Science Festival has become synonymous with engaging and accessible science exploration for all ages, while celebrating diversity and our city as a science hub,” said Meisa Salaita, executive co-director of Science ATL—the engineers of the Atlanta Science Festival.

During the news conference, Salaita recalled the challenges of holding the festival during the past two years with the coronavirus limiting many activities. The virus struck the area in 2020 as the festival was underway, forcing cancellation of many events. The 2022 festival, like the 2021 one, will be combination of online content and in-person events designed to be COVID-safe. This year’s logo, like last year’s, features mascot Alex—a pink-clad astronaut—battling the coronavirus.

Watching events at which community members delight at the wonders of science has brought tears to her eyes—tears of joy, Salaita said. “It doesn’t have quite the same emotional impact when we have to present programs online, and we’re hoping next year to celebrate our 10th anniversary with a traditional all in-person event,” she said.

During the festivals, children and adults have the opportunity to explore a range of topics, including environmental science, earth and space, animals, science and the arts, science and society, and health and the human body. Nature walks, creature encounters, hands-on experiments, science-themed performances, and much more will be part of the two-week event calendar.

Among the events 2022 festival goers can look froward to are Drive-In Demos: Chemistry From Your Car and The Science Behind Tracking Thunderstorms. During Drive-In Demos, Emory chemists will present a live-action chemistry demo show featuring fire, ice, bubbles, and a cloud that audiences watch from inside their vehicles. Emory will team with 11 Alive StormTrackers to explore the science behind storms and storm tracking, including thunderstorm life cycle and forecasting, and how radar allows viewers to see a slice of a thunderstorm.

Science blends with the arts in such events as the Guthman Music, Art and Technology Fair, at which there will be “all sorts of amazing instruments for you to see and explore.” Mathematics in Motion attendees will see original dance and circus performances and be shown the “underlying inspiration of mathematics.” Conversations in Creativity will be a “thought-provoking discussion about the intersection of art and science,” according to ASF officials. It features Atlanta-based artist and architect Amy Landesberg, Georgia Tech mathematician/physicist Elisabetta Matsumoto, and representatives of Science Gallery at Emory University, a new exhibition gallery where science and art collide.

DeKalb residents will find many festival activities within the county, including Salamander Stroll at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve in Decatur, a Rock ‘N Walk Stone Mountain hike, Fernbank Forest Wildflower Walk, STEMFEST Interactive Science for Families at Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven and several events in Mason Mill Park.

Although this year’s festival—like most of the past ones—will culminate in the Exploration Expo, described as “a big science party in Piedmont Park,” this year’s event will be planned with social distancing and other precautions being observed. Salaita showed a photo of a pre-COVID Exploration Expo with attendees squeezed together in the park. “It won’t be like this,” she explained.

“Today science is more relevant than ever,” Salaita said. “And just as science evolves, our festival continues to grow and expand in ways we never thought possible.”

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