Atlanta Science Festival hosts Exploration Expo

May 17, 2016

On March 26, the Atlanta Science Festival held their last big event, the Exploration Expo, in Centennial Olympic Park.

The Exploration Expo showcased more than 100 interactive exhibits. Some of these exhibits allowed participants to touch a brain, build a Lego model of Atlanta, see a science parade, use Google glass, write science haikus and drive an underwater research vehicle.

The Expo was split into four sections: invent, encounter, discover and thrive. Each section featured science activities sponsored by local organizations of all sorts to engage people of all ages and backgrounds.

Meisa Salaita, co-founder and director of the Atlanta Science Festival, believes that the festival should highlight the local science in Atlanta to encourage young people who live in the area.

“We’re interested in showcasing what we have here,” Salaita said. “We want to find the best and the brightest of what we have in Atlanta.”

Chris Nwoke, an instructor at Play-Well Teknologies in Atlanta, believes that the festival is important to get the public involved.

Play-Well Teknologies is an organization teaches kids about hands on engineering through activities using Legos and other building materials.

Nwoke worked at the Play-Well booth to answer questions about the 40-foot Lego model of Atlanta, and to help visitors enter in a raffle ticket contest, where a lego conveyor belt moved their tickets into a box.

The Play-Well booth encouraged visitors to learn how to build things with a creative approach, similar to a creative approach used in arts.

According to Salaita, the science festival tries to blend together art and science for a dynamic experience that shows the relationship between the two seemingly different subjects.

“There’s a lot of overlap in creativity that scientists have as they approach their work, and that artists have as they approach their own work,” Salaita said. “When you talk to scientists and artists about what they do, you immediately see that [relationship].”

Nwoke also sees this connection in building the Lego Atlanta model and Play-Well Teknologies, where hands on learning is used to encourage kids to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math.)

The Expo featured activities that displayed this relationship, such as papermaking, modeling deep sea ocean creatures with pipe cleaners, science haikus (scikus), and shirt printing.

In the past, the Exploration Expos featured more than 120 events, which inspired Salaita to pursue better quality exhibits rather than more. The Atlanta Science Festival board has also reorganized the park into different themes that correlate with the booths within each one.

Salaita believes that the Atlanta Science Festival has been able to refine itself in organization and quality over the years, to create a better experience for guests that didn’t overwhelm them with information.

As the Science Festival continues to occur, Salaita hopes it will continue to grow, while still remaining a local organization that avoided a “big, corporate feel.”

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