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Educational festivals to bring unique opportunities to young scholars

Activities during the science festival will consist of an escape room and hands-on children's activities, with the focus on topics that include astronomy, physics, and biology.

The Dahlonega Science Festival and the Dahlonega Literary Festival are teaming up again to bring scholarly activities to families and students March 6-8 in downtown Dahlonega, including well-known keynote speakers for each event.

Dr. Donna Governor, science festival organizer and assistant professor of science education at the University of North Georgia (UNG), hopes festival attendees will walk away with a love of science.

"There will be lots of family activities, the option to listen to speakers and panels, and hands-on activities for the kids," she said.

This year's festival will bring new ideas to the attendees through its futuristic theme "The Science of Things to Come," with the focus on topics that include astronomy, physics, and biology.

Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, a well-known astronomer, teacher and writer, will headline the events as the keynote speaker. Bennett will speak about the search for extraterrestrial life in the UNG Health and Natural Sciences (HNS) auditorium March 6 at 7 p.m. He will also speak about how to make sense of climate science at the 27 On Park hotel March 7 at 6 p.m.

While in town, Bennett will visit all three elementary schools in Lumpkin County and talk to faculty on the Dahlonega Campus.

Activities during the science festival will consist of an escape room and hands-on children's activities, which will include meeting scientists from history March 7. The interactive and educational "Tea Party with Scientists" event, featuring UNG student volunteers portraying famous scientists, will be from noon to 5 p.m. at the Community House on the Dahlonega square.

Harry Potter fans won't want to miss the themed astronomy shows, which will repeat several times throughout the day on March 7 in the George E. Coleman Sr. Planetarium located in HNS.

For a full list of science events, visit the event website. A smartphone app, Attendify, provides users an updated schedule for 2020 about a week prior to the events for both festivals.

In addition to feeding a love of science, the public also can foster a love of books through the literary festival.

Football fans will want to catch Bill Curry's keynote from 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. March 7 at the Dahlonega United Methodist Church. Curry, who played professional football; coached college football for the University of Alabama, the University of Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University; and served as an ESPN analyst, will give lessons on leadership. He will speak about his book "Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle," in which he writes about figures who influenced his life and career path.

In a first for the literary festival, an author will launch a book. Rona Simmons will release her book "The Other Veterans of World War II," which shares true stories of noncombat veterans in World War II.

Tickets for Curry's keynote and a full list of literary events can be found on the event website.

Dr. Donna Gessell, literary festival organizer and professor of English at UNG, said participants will have the opportunity to speak directly with published authors.

"We're known for the intimacy with writers. Attendees will be able to interact with them in a number of venues," she said. "Additionally, most of the panels are relatively small, ensuring that people can ask questions and hear from authors."

Activities for literary enthusiasts of all ages also will be available.

"This festival is for book lovers of all ages and for all genres. It's impossible to attend all of the panels; however, we're glad to be offering such an exciting array of writers to give attendees choices," Gessell said.

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