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Second annual San Diego Science Festival to celebrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics exploration Countywide events are scheduled for March 20-27

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in Events

A San Diego Science Festival event attracted thousands to Balboa Park last year.

The San Diego Science Festival, the largest celebration of science on the West Coast, promises to excite the minds of thousands of students and their families during its March 20-27 run. The annual event is meant to raise awareness on the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics among San Diego’s youth to inspire them to pursue careers in these fields. Life Technologies is the lead sponsor of the festival.
“The goal of the San Diego Science Festival is to create highly memorable, exciting and interactive experiences for students and their families that demonstrate the remarkable career possibilities in science and technology here in the greater San Diego area, a community recognized as one of our nation’s scientific leaders,” says Loren Thompson, director of community outreach for the festival. He is also assistant vice chancellor for student educational advancement at UCSD – the university organizer of the science celebration. “The wide variety of programs, events and hands-on exhibits will inspire those of all ages, with a special focus on building an educational pipeline for future thought leaders in science, research, engineering, and technology, as well as in science and mathematics teaching,” says Thompson.
The first festival, held in spring 2009, featured activities that impacted more than 75,000 individuals — including 50,000 who attended the inaugural all-day Expo at Balboa Park. This year’s festival will feature events such as an eight-person team Rubik’s Cube Speed Tournament involving over 45 K-12 schools, Family Day at Balboa Park, Science of Science Fiction, Star Party, The Illusion of Psychic Powers, and the free all-day celebration of science – Expo Day – on March 27 at Petco Park, co-hosted by the Padres and the city of San Diego.
UCSD was awarded a $3 million National Science Foundation grant to fund the year-round San Diego Science Festival efforts. In addition, the grant will be used over a three-year period to support three other festival sites: San Francisco through UC San Francisco, Cambridge, Massachusetts through the MIT Museum and Philadelphia through The Franklin Institute. It also establishes the national Science Festival Alliance to generate science festival start-ups across the entire nation.

This year’s signature events:
Family Day – March 20 – Balboa Park – 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Family Day offers family-friendly science inspired adventures as part of this park-wide event. Families can experience a variety of hands-on activities including “astronaut for the day” following NASA on their last mission to service the Hubble telescope at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, dig in a mock archaeology pit at the San Diego History Center, use investigative tools to encourage hands-on activities while exploring the plants, wildlife and culture inside the Japanese Friendship Garden, walk into an oversize version (9 feet wide, 7 feet tall) of a camera obscura — a device that led to the invention of photography at the MoPA, and learn the science of steam locomotives by making your own paper-based steam engine at the SD Model Railroad, to name a few. Dozens of events will be offered to explore the world of science.. For a complete schedule including specific museum hours, admission pricing and discounts, visit balboapark.org.
SDSU Science Sampler – March 20 – San Diego State University campus at the College of Sciences -10 a.m.-4 p.m. The “SDSU Science Sampler” event, hosted by the SDSU College of Sciences, is offering interactive experiences for all ages that showcase the varied science of greater San Diego. Experience over 20 interactive demonstrations including liquid nitrogen ice cream, CSI meets CSU, a live virtual exploration of the Santa Margarita River Gorge, hands-on models to demonstrate the properties of earth movement (earthquakes) and view the sun though telescopes to hopefully see sunspots.
Science of Science Fiction – March 23 – Neurosciences Institute –  6p.m.-8 p.m. – The festival offers teenagers a chance to participate in an enlightened question-and-answer panel discussion moderated by Barbara Bry, science fiction enthusiast and associate publisher/executive editor at San Diego News Network, with science fiction authors whose lives’ work is based on “hard science.” Notable authors include: Scott Sigler (“EarthCore,” “Ancestor, “Contagious” and “Infected”), Jennifer Oullette from the Science Entertainment Exchange, author of “The Physics of the Buffyverse,” and David Brin, recipient of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, noted futurist, and author of the “Uplift Trilogy” and “Tomorrow Happens.”
The Illusion of Psychic Powers – March 24 – UCSD campus at the CALIT2 Auditorium – 6-8 p.m. Magicians have confounded intelligent observers since before the birth of science; they continue to do so today despite the knowledge we’ve learned in science and technology. For those interested in knowing more about how critical thinking is used in magic, internationally recognized magician extraordinaire, Jamy Ian Swiss will show attendees how a grasp of the absurd, an understanding of how deception works, and critical thinking go hand-in-hand.
Star Party – March 25 – Reuben H. Fleet Science Center – starts at 6 p.m. The Star Party will offer attendees of all ages the chance to peer at the universe through large telescopes, rub elbows with NASA engineers and preview the new IMAX documentary based on the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Following the movie will be a hosted “Star Viewing” in Balboa Park supported by the San Diego Astronomy Association.
Expo Day – March 27 – PETCO Park – 10 a.m.-5 p.m. – The Expo together over 150 hands-on science activities and stage performances for people of all ages and interest levels. You can see actual DNA and perform DNA extraction techniques, use your olfactory gland (nose) to identify the organic molecules that create the flavors, aromas, and colors in your favorite foods, get an up close look at the science of baseball, and put your forensic skills to the test to solve a birthday cake mystery by analyzing saliva samples of the suspects. Performers will bring science to life with a display of impressive reptiles in “Close Encounters of the Cold Blooded Kind,” the Science of Magic will be revealed as objects disappear before your eyes, dry ice will be used to create bubbling potions to produce a large-scale theatrical effect, and sing along as you increase your science knowledge with the Galapagos Mountain Boys performing their scientific inspired folk songs about the Big Bang, star formation, cosmology, anthropology, and more.
Initially inspired by international science festivals that draw crowds in the hundreds of thousands, the goal of the San Diego Science Festival is to increase community awareness of science and inspire our nation’s youth to consider entering a science-related education and career. San Diego is at the forefront of scientific research and development, and home to many leading biotechnology and technology corporations.
The San Diego Science Festival is partnering with more than 120 collaborators — leading businesses and organizations in the community that wish to offer their guidance, financial support and time to help teach the scientific leaders of tomorrow. Collaborators include BioBridge, a science outreach program at UC San Diego; Cleantech San Diego; General Atomics; and UC San  Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, to name a few.  For a full list of collaborators, please visit sdsciencefestival.com/collaborators.
The 2010 San Diego Science Festival sponsors and individual donors including Life Technologies, the National Science Foundation (NSF), Agilent Technologies Foundation, Gen-Probe Incorporated, Illumina Inc., UCSD ScienceBridge, KPBS, COX, Celgene, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube, Think Blue-City of San Diego, Biogen Idec, Cal-SOAP, Voice of San Diego, San Diego News Network, NuVasive, Inc., UC San Diego Extension, Qualcom Inc., BD Biosciences, SDG&E, gaslamp.org, Pfizer, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, SCE-San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and the National Defense Industrial Association-San Diego Chapter, among others.

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We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: info@probolskyresearch.com