Atlanta Science Festival launches into 2017

Niki Gajjar

The opening event was held at Emory University.

On March 14, the Atlanta Science Festival launched its 2017 festival with a talk from astronaut Mark Kelly. The festival is celebrating its third year as an eleven day long festival, featuring individual events and an “Exploration Expo” in Centennial Olympic Park on March 25.

Mark Kelly has been to space four times, each time for nearly ten days. His brother, Scott Kelly, spent one year in space, and became the only American to spend a continous year in space. The two are used for research about the impacts of space travel on the human body. 

During the talk, Mark discussed the importance of “just going for it,” and how this applies to his life. From his wife, Senator Gabby Giffords’ recovery from an attempted assassination to sending his brother a gorilla suit on the space station, Mark embodied the inspiration behind being an astronaut. 

“An astronaut is the epitome of inspiration in science,” Meisa Salaita, co-founder and co-director of the Atlanta Science Festival said. “He’s the explorer of the unknown, you can’t get any better than that. He’s truly inspirational, and everybody, no matter the age, is inspired by him.”

The even also debuted the festival’s new mascot: a pink astronaut. 

The last event of the festival was the Exploration Expo, held in Centennial Olympic Park on March 25. The Exploration Expo featured different interactive exhibits where attendants could do anything from holding a human brain to experiencing the immersive Google Village. 

For Salaita, much of the importance of the festival came from the power it gives her and other scientists to “show people that science is not scary.”

“It’s more important now than it ever has been before,” she said. “I think the only way to [show people science isn’t scary] is to display it in a friendly and accessible way and not make people feel threatened by it.”

Featured image courtesy of Meisa Sailata, Photo in post by Niki Gajjar