Science festivals are about bringing science to the people, to create an understanding of how science impacts our lives. Recent science festivals have placed an emphasis on our connection with the world around us and how science affects humanity through innovation, both technological and artistic.
Energy has been a focus of science festivals in recent years. The Presidential theme of the 2007 BA Festival of Science will be “Energy and Human Progress”. Nearly every science festival includes activities that deal with the need for more efficient, cleaner, renewable energy sources. The Australian Science Festival even holds a boat race where teams compete while piloting watercraft fueled by non-polluting energy sources, such as solar power. The innovations inspired by these festivals may one day lead to solutions for one of humanity’s most pressing concerns.
Another popular topic at science festivals is man’s effect on the planet. Some festivals hold events at local zoos and botanical gardens. The tours and talks at these venues can emphasize the role that various animal and plant species play in our ecosystem, and what humans can do to ensure their survival. Nearly every science festival now has events related to global warming, with suggestions on how people can live in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Some of the most promising scientific innovations have involved advances in medicine. Science festivals give people an opportunity to learn about the latest medical research, and how these findings can be used to help eradicate diseases so that we may all live longer, healthier lives. There are often debates and panel discussions that address the ethical issues that these advances in medicine can create.
The United States is a latecomer to the world of science festivals, but those festivals are distinguishing themselves by exploring how art is influenced by science. The first Cambridge Science Festival, held in Massachusetts in April 2007, featured musical and theatrical performances with a scientific theme. The first World Science Festival, scheduled to be held in New York City in 2008, promises movie screenings and music, dance and theatrical performances of works that draw their inspiration from science and technology. These types of events highlight the link between the scientific and artistic worlds, both of which are necessary for humanity’s survival and progress.
Science festivals have long been a way to teach people about the world around them. Today science festivals are helping people understand how scientific innovation can help us solve humanity’s biggest challenges, and how science influences the arts, which helps to connect us with each other.