When I use the term geeks I mean in it the fondest sense of the word. Why? Because geeks think outside the box. Geeks like to explore new paths and get their hands dirty. Geeks like to figure out how things work and why they work the way they do. Geeks like to get granular. Geeks like to dig in. Geeks love acquiring knowledge. Science Saturday is the ultimate Geek day with floors and floors of inquiry based science exhibits that celebrate almost every aspect of science.
Yesterday was our fourth year at Science Saturday, always held the first Saturday in May. We would not miss it. As the kids get older their enthusiasm for the day has only grown. On this day they dissected a sheep’s brain, made rockets, learned how to make a lava lamp, extinguished fires, extracted DNA from a strawberry and cracked the code of their own DNA – all before lunch!
The Scientists are so generous with their time and their knowledge. They carefully lead the group through the chosen topics so the kids learn via discovery. Genius! Everyone that worked the event wore a red button that said, “ask me! I am a scientist.” And ask away the children did! I paused a few times to look around the room and found all the kids thoroughly engaged at each exhibit. If there had been a visual depiction of what was going on in their brains, it would have been a show of lightbulbs being illuminated en masse. Not one bored face in the room. No devices were deployed. Eyes and minds were shining bright in kids ranging in age from 3 to 15. Such a gift for the university to bestow on the community.
I apologize for being so passionate about something you that you have to wait a year to attend, but I am a complete geek about this day and could not love it more. If the science were not enough, the event also affords you the opportunity to see the beautiful campus of Rockefeller University in full spring bloom. The gates to the school are ominous and foreboding, but once you get past you will be treated to a green jewel of a campus with inviting outdoor spaces. (Enough space for the kids to play capture the flag when the event was over!) Behind those gates the University houses 82 research labs and 200 graduate students. Rockefeller scientists have won a collective 24 Nobel Prizes. These are the people your children get to interact with when they attend the day! My geeky heart be still.
We’ve learned a thing or eight over the past four years, thus giving you The Geek’s Guide to Science Saturday:
1. Buy your tickets the day the event goes on sale. It will sell out that day. This means signing up for the RU Parent and Science mailing list so you receive the invite. Once on this list you will also receive invites to free parenting lectures by heavy hitters like Angela Duckworth that I also try to never miss.
2. Get there when it opens at 10am.
3. Start from the bottom and wind up OR start from the top and wind your way down. I used to be able to control this better when the kids were younger. This year the 12 year olds assembled were annoyingly un-strategic. They raced from the 4th floor to the basement and back to the 3rd floor; every move was based on the exhibit they wanted to visit next. But they were having a blast and learning so I let them go with it (as if I had a choice, ha!).
4. Check and re-check the handy pamphlet they give you to be sure you are not missing anything.
5. Attend the talks if you can. I have not had much luck with this as it would mean tearing the kids away from the exhibits, but I always hear rave reviews about the presentations.
6. Have lunch on the early side, around 11:30am. This is when the crowds are the thickest so you can take a break and re-charge, then head back for more science when the crowds are tucking in for their meal.
7. Bring your friends!
8. Participate. The only folks I did see on their devices were parents. Big mistake! Belly up the tables and learn; you will be happy you did.
I think I have made my case. See you and your assemblage of geeks next year at Science Saturday!