Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Star parties to train rides: N.C. Science Festival kicks off this weekend

Posted April 5
Updated April 6

The N.C. Science Festival kicks off this Friday to present two weeks of activities across the state that showcase science and technology.

The key here, according to the festival's mission, is to make it engaging with hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours and nature experiences. This is an opportunity for kids and adults to get a closer look at all of the science that happens here in North Carolina. The festival, now in its sixth year, runs through April 24.

It doesn't all happen in one spot or even a handful of places. Instead, museums, parks, nature centers, schools and even a railway and an orchestra have lined up to fill the festival's schedule with events. Many of them are free or inexpensive. The festival has grown into the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and math topics in the world.

"North Carolina is literally leading the way on this kind of celebration," said Jonathan Frederick, festival director. "Nobody else is doing it like us, which is pretty cool."

This year's theme is Science in the Great Outdoors to mark the centennial of North Carolina's state parks system. All state parks that are able to host public events have something lined up during the festival. Elsewhere, many, but not all of the festival's events, will have an outdoor theme. You'll also find computer coding camps and other less outdoorsy activities.

"There are more events than ever," Frederick said. "The Triangle is always kind of the shining star. There’s so much cool stuff to take advantage of here. Ther’s something in every major museum in the Triangle, parks, libraries. The Raleigh Civic Orchestra is doing an event this year. There's a lot of variety."

Throughout the festival, Go Ask Mom will be featuring easy home experiments and weekly updates on festival activities.

Some highlights this weekend in our Triangle region (the North Central region if you're looking for event's on the festival's handy calendar):

  • Statewide Star Parties at locations such as Umstead State Park, American Tobacco Trail, Falls Lake, Prairie Ridge Ecostation and Little River Park. Participants will gaze at the skies (weather permitting) and learn more about what they're seeing. There are more than 50 skywatching events on Friday and Saturday across the state.
  • The UNC Science Expo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, in Chapel Hill. The "giant science street fair" includes more than 100 demonstrations, hands-on experiments and more. It's held in partnership with Morehead Planetarium, the University of North Carolina and the town of Chapel Hill.
  • Engineering STEAM at New Hope Valley Railway in southwestern Wake County. The railway kicks off its season on Sunday with special events that focus on train safety, rail replacement and more.

Some of the events do require pre-registration or tickets. The festival's website has all of the details and the full schedule.

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