Science in our backyard
Have you heard of the MSU Science Festival? Now in its fifth year, this Michigan-wide celebration runs April 6-22, taking STEAM mainstream for 17 days. And while many of the 200-plus activities await at Michigan State University’s Lansing campus (definitely road-trip worthy!), there’s family fun nearby, too.
“Science is accessible at this event, for the very young to the very seasoned,” says Roxanne Truhn, coordinator of what happens to be the state’s largest free science fest. “The festival schedule is designed to give everyone a chance to enjoy and learn about the wonders of scientific exploration and discovery.”
That includes a romp in Belle Isle, Detroit’s own natural playground on Sunday, April 15. At Detroit Expo Day, take your pick from 40 hands-on activities, demos and talks targeted at sparking kiddos’ curiosity.
Not-to-miss highlights: “Learn how to fly with the Tuskegee Airmen and their flight simulator,” Truhn says, “make music with Motor City Woman and Audio Engineers of Detroit, engineer a solar bug, create an amusement park or get up close and personal with a slippery, slimy sea lamprey.”
Also in Detroit, explore meteorology at the WDIV local TV studio (April 7), chemistry at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (April 21) – even the science of beer-making at an all-ages tour of Atwater Brewery (April 12). Glance to the right for local astronomy events on April 20, too.
Learning in Lansing
MSU’s campus offers 30 out-of-this-world tours for kid scientists on Saturday, April 14. Like the Cyclotron, where atoms are smashed. Or a controlled-environment lab that’s researching farming without sunlight or soil – skills that would be really helpful on the Red Planet. You can also “tour” a Martian city (as envisioned by kids in grades 4-8) and visit the stars at a planetarium. After that, get back to earth learning about butterflies at the 4-H Children’s Garden and about the human body at the Neuroscience Fair, where kids make a neuron, control a pal’s nervous system and hold a real human brain.
From the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Bay City State Park to the Wayne State University Planetarium and Detroit Observatory in Ann Arbor, 13 total museums, observatories and other locales are taking part in the Statewide Astronomy Night (SWAN) on Friday, April 20. “See and explore planets, stars and galaxies that are light-years away from us,” MSU Science Festival coordinator Roxanne Truhn says. “All planetariums and observatories will have hands-on activities and observing.”