IU Bloomington invites community to campus for third annual IU Science Fest

  • Oct. 12, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Kids and adults of all ages will get the chance to sample over 100 activities -- such as controlling a race car with their minds, brewing up chemical "potions" at Hogwarts, experiencing an earthquake and digitizing ancient fossils -- at Indiana University's third annual Science Fest.

This free event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, will welcome children, families, educators and other members of the community to the IU Bloomington campus for a day of exciting demonstrations and fun hands-on activities. Over 550 volunteers from IU's faculty, staff and student community will serve as guides in the quest to spark visitors’ sense of wonder and excitement about science.

The event is hosted by the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences and IU Office of Science Outreach. Last year's IU Science Fest attracted about 1,800 visitors to campus, including families, church and community groups, and 49 school districts.

Activities will take place in multiple buildings across campus: Swain West, Jordan Hall, Chemistry, Lindley Hall, Kirkwood Observatory and the Francis Morgan Swain Student Building. The event will also feature guided tours of IU's Dunn Woods, activities outside Owen Hall and an "earthquake simulator" on the south side of the Indiana Memorial Union.

"IU has had a tradition of inviting the community to campus to share in the wonder of science for nearly a half century, and IU Science Fest has rapidly picked up and expanded upon this proud tradition," said Rick Van Kooten, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington, associate vice president for research at IU and a professor in the IU Department of Physics, who will help lead an activity at the event. "This year's Science Fest is bigger and better than ever, and all our volunteers -- many who are faculty and graduate students with advanced degrees in their fields -- are excited to once again share their expertise and show how science plays an important role in the world around us."

"The whole scientific community at IU puts its best foot forward each year for this fantastic and family-friendly event," added Larry Singell, dean of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. "IU Science Fest aims to evoke both the 'magic' and wonder of science while also sparking a deeper desire to delve into the real-world forces that power the spectacular natural phenomenon and high-powered technologies on display."

The mind-controlled race cars will employ brainwave sensors to move vehicles down a track. The digitization of natural history specimens from the IU Paleontology Collection is presented in partnership with WeDigBio, a global "citizen science" event from Oct. 20 to 23 that engages the public in digitally cataloging minerals and fossils. Over 60 computer digitization stations will be set up in the atrium of Jordan Hall.

The "Quake Cottage" is an earthquake simulator that mimics the shaking experienced during earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 3.0 to 7.0. Participants age 7 and older can learn about earthquake science and safety through this traveling exhibit, presented by the Indiana Geological Survey.

The festival will also feature "Pokemon LI-GO"; the ever-popular physics show, a highly visual event that spotlights the astonishing properties of light, sound, electricity, magnetism and motion hosted by the Department of Physics; and "Science at Hogwarts," a Harry Potter-themed lesson in "potions," "alchemy" and "divinations" hosted by the Department of Chemistry.

Other experiences include the chance to interact with robots, build a galaxy with code, power a lightbulb with a bicycle, play with mechanical puzzles, watch a simulated volcanic eruption and learn about beekeeping. A complete list of activities is online.

Altogether, IU Science Fest features activities from 16 academic disciplines in multiple departments and schools, as well as organizations affiliated with the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. They are the departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry, geography, geological sciences, mathematics, physics, psychological and brain sciences, and speech and hearing sciences; the IU School of Education; the IU School of Informatics and Computing; the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs; WTIU Literacy Lab; the Indiana Geological Survey; the Slocum Puzzle Collection at IU's Lilly Library; and the Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project.

Additionally, IU Science Fest will feature a "science slam," a combination poetry slam and TED Talk in which IU scientists compete to deliver the most compelling 12-minute science presentation in plain English. This year's topics and presenters are:

  • "Special Relativity and Time Dilation," presented by Karna M. Desai of the IU Bloomington Department of Astronomy, who will discuss the strange ways that time slows down for moving objects.
  • "Aliens Among Us: The Exuberance of Insect Biology in South-Central Indiana," presented by Armin Moczek of the IU Bloomington Department of Biology, who will discuss the beauty, intricacy and complexity of insects found right in people’s own backyard.
  • "GC-MS Analysis of Fragrances and Flavorings," presented by Jonathan A. Karty of the IU Bloomington Department of Chemistry, who will show the differences revealed by applying a powerful chemical analysis to common baking ingredients.
  • "What Does Einstein's General Relativity Tell Us About Black Holes?" presented by Shouhong Wang of the Department of Mathematics, who will explore how black holes reveal important information about the stars, galaxies and supernovae.

IU Science Fest is open to the public. Everyone, including large groups, is encouraged to attend. Several activities require sign-up at the door. No registration is required.

For more information, contact Tina Gilliland at scihouse@indiana.edu or 812-855-5397.

Related Links

IU Science Fest infographic

Photo by Indiana University

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

Kevin Fryling

News and Media Specialist, IU Communications

  • Office 812-856-2988
  • kfryling@iu.edu

Tina Gilliland

Outreach Liaison, IU Office of Science Outreach

  • Office 812-855-5397
  • scihouse@indiana.edu