This past weekend I organized staff and volunteers from across my museum to present science to the ~5,500 attendees at the AAAS Family Science Days in San Jose. Family Science Days is an annual two-day showcase for scientists and science that takes places in a different city every year, to coincide with the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science. It took place in the enormous San Jose Convention Center, featuring 50 local science institutions, including the California Academy of Sciences.
For the Cal Academy, we went BIG as usual — hosting a mini-planetarium dome, three public talks, several scientific posters, and an exhibit booth with several engaging activities for visitors. Visitors were able to take a mouth swab of their mouths and mount them in plates to check out what cool bacteria grow in their internal ecosystems. They played the "Mission Fishin" video game developed by some of our Digital Learning teens. They investigated the fizzy interactions of alka-seltzer and various liquids to understand the principles of convection. And they got to see and touch awesome samples from our 45 million specimens in our scientific collections.
I'd forgotten how exhausting public event planning is. From getting together all of the various departments to provide staff and resources, to coordinating with the event organizers and the venue, to arranging transportation, food and drinks for your volunteers. So many details to work out and fires to put out.
But you get to see the tremendous dividends in the faces of the thousands of people who are wowed and inspired by science. Such a cool experience!