Chicago, IL

South Side Chicago Science Festival Ignites Curiosity in Science for Young Students

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

University of Chicago South Side Science gave new generation of potential scientists close-up view of science

The second annual South Side Science Festival, hosted by the University of Chicago, proved to be a remarkable occasion for kids and parents alike. With over 60 live demonstrations, four panels, and various engaging activities, the festival aimed to bridge the gap between young minds and the world of science.

Isaac Magallanes, a University of Chicago graduate student specializing in mammal evolution, found a personal connection with the event. Growing up with a fascination for dinosaurs, he now had the opportunity to impart knowledge to the next generation. He was stationed at Paleontology Alley, where young minds could explore the science behind fossils, complete with a dig table and 3D-printed bones.

Magallanes acknowledged the significance of representation in the field of science, especially for children from underrepresented backgrounds. "To be able to represent what a scientist looks like to kids who come from the same background as me, or are just not used to seeing someone who looks like me, is really important to me," he explained.

Caroline Abbott, another graduate student studying evolutionary biology, emphasized the importance of hands-on experience in science education. She noted that rote memorization of facts is not as effective as experiential learning, which allows children to grasp scientific concepts more effectively.

For kids like Jeremiah and Josiah, attendees at the festival, exposure to science is everything. Their grandmother, Jan Howell, recognized the value of events like this. "Exposure is everything," Howell said, highlighting how such experiences leave a lasting impression on young minds.

Shubha Pani, a PhD candidate in the university's chemistry department, shared the hope that events like the South Side Science Festival could help bridge the gap between scientists and the general public. By allowing people to see, touch, and experience science firsthand, it becomes more accessible and believable.

The festival not only ignited curiosity in young attendees but also provided scientists with a reminder of why they entered their respective fields. As Magallanes aptly put it, "this stuff is just cool."

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