Friday, June 26, 2009

World Science Festival

The World Science Festival returned to New York City and offered a huge number of lectures, activities, and a street fair.

On June 11th, we attended The Hudson Since Henry: A Natural and Unnatural History at the New York Historical Society, which tied in nicely with the Hudson Quadricentennial. The panel included Eric Sanderson (author of Mannahatta), Barnard art history professor Elizabeth Hutchinson, poet David Gonzales (reading O, Hudson!), and aquatic biologist John Waldman (author of Heartbeats in the Muck).

We were supposed to participate in a bio blitz (survey of the biodiversity of an area, in which samples are collected and identified) of Swindler Cove Park in northern Manhattan on Saturday, but Mikro and I were both too sick. The following day we were improved enough to head to the World Science Festival Street Fair at Washington Square Park. On the walk over, we bumped into some homeschooling friends and spent part of the day with them. Eventually I was dragging, though, so we said farewell and proceeded on our own at a snail's pace...

First we saw a play about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly put on by Central Park Zoo's Wildlife Theatre.

We visited the booths, where Mad Science let the kids make slime; saw huge bubbles being made; watched what happens when you add Mentos to Diet Coke; learned about forensic investigation by playing with such things as identifying facial features, faux blood splatter, and fingerprinting (both lifting latents and rolling prints); played with patterns and tesselations in the math area; learned about gravity and black holes; posed with Digit from Cyberchase; learned about dog training for agility competitions, saw Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo; learned about geodesic domes; and sat in a Formula SAE race car.

Then we had luch at Au Bon Pain. Much restored by a huge helping of hot soup, we attended a great presentation featuring Mark Moffet of National Geographic, and the legendary naturalist and evolutionary biologist E.O Wilson. It was hosted by Josh Zepps of Brink. It opened with an astounding display of geekery, as the crowd was warmed up by dancers in labcoats. Mikro danced in the aisles. Afterwards, we got to be amazed by Moffet's photography of exotic locales and animals and inspired by Wilson's sheer awesomeness. Mikro was in little science geeky boy heaven (and so was his geeky mother.) What an experience!

I'll leave you with three quotes:

Mark Moffet:

"An adventure is the process of finding a story."

E.O. Wilson:

"We need to include saving the living world with our long-term plans."

"There are big secrets, still unsolved mysteries in science."

One of the reasons I homeschool is to instill in my son a love of science, this planet, and all living things, and a desire to help find some of the answers.

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