At the impetus of the MIT Museum, a first-of-its-kind science festival will take place next year in Cambridge, officials announced Tuesday, June 20.
MIT Museum Director John Durant joined City of Cambridge officials, educational leaders and representatives from public broadcasting and arts organizations in launching the new Cambridge Science Festival at a kickoff event held in Cambridge City Hall.
The festival, planned as a weeklong celebration of science and technology, is slated to take place April 21-28, 2007. Initiated by the MIT Museum, it is the first science festival of its kind in the United States.
"Cambridge is world-famous for science and technology, and we plan to do something special -- something inclusive and substantial -- in this very special city. We thank Cambridge for its enthusiasm and support, and we look forward to an expanding circle of partnership," Durant said.
Current festival partners include the MIT Museum, the City of Cambridge, Cambridge Public Schools, Cambridge Public Library, the WGBH Educational Foundation and the Boston Museum of Science.
Designed to be an inclusive public celebration, the festival will mobilize academic, educational and commercial scientific resources to showcase science and technology in Cambridge and to increase citizens' awareness of local science-based opportunities, activities and resources.
"Cambridge is the science city, and the festival will reveal to our community some of the city's hidden science treasures as well as showcase our science-friendly institutions and science-friendly media," Mayor Ken Reeves said. "This celebration will also provide opportunities for the 6,000 students in the Cambridge Public Schools to get involved in youth projects like constructing a 20-mile-long model of the human genome," he added.
"Young people will certainly be crucial participants and support for the festival. It will be a time of open doors, of events not just on campuses but out in our communities," Durant said. Open houses are planned at area institutions, culminating in a career fair at MIT's Stata Center.
The superintendent of Cambridge schools, Thomas Fowler-Finn, gave his support to the festival as a way to raise family awareness of the city's resources in science and technology.
"Many people are not familiar with what places like Draper Lab actually do. But once parents see the resources in the city, they start asking, 'What is available for my child in terms of education, career and applied knowledge?'" he said.
Marita Rivero, the vice president for television and radio at WGBH, added, "It's important for people to embrace science as important to being responsible citizens and voters. What happens after the TV and the computer are turned off really does matter."
Rebecca Rosenberg, a former middle school science teacher, and Deborah Wise of the Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT, who is also artistic director of the Underground Railway Theater, gave the adults gathered in City Hall's Sullivan Chamber a sense of the magic the upcoming festival will offer.
Using a soda can, a beaker of water and a single-burner hotplate, Rosenberg conducted an experiment to demonstrate what happens when air pressure outside a container is greater than that inside it (the can caves in). Waving a feather in grand, sweeping arcs, Wise read selections from three plays with science or math themes -- "Fermat's Last Theorem," "Partition" and "Einstein's Dreams."
For more information on the festival or to get involved, visit cambridgesciencefestival.org.