Philadelphia Science Festival sweeps Philly off feet

More than 100 local organizations, large and small — including museums, schools, libraries, research institutes and companies — are participating in the Philadelphia Science Festival that kicked off last week.

Actually, “jumped off” would be more accurate: the first event in the festival was The Big Jump last Friday at 11 a.m., when students all over the city jumped at once to see if they could trigger a seismic event. (Didn’t notice anything? Well, it turns out the results of the experiment can be summarized in one word: no.)

The festival consists of dozens of events, many of them free and all of them open to the public.
They include everything from beer tastings to a raft race, plus performances, exhibits, demonstrations and lectures. Philadelphia was one of four cities chosen by the National Science Foundation to throw festivals to promote public interest in science and technology. The NSF was inspired by similar events that have been popular in Europe for years.

“We’re a natural place to do this,” said Matthew Vlahos, festival spokesperson. “We’re the home of the oldest zoo in the country; Lewis and Clark prepared for their expedition at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Plexiglas was invented here.”

Go to the festival’s website ( to find a full listing. You won’t necessarily need to travel far: Every branch of the Free Library will be hosting a program sometime this week.

Follow Judy Weightman on Twitter at @JudyWEdu.

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