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Dahlonega Science Festival flips to virtually interactive event

2021-02-17-Science Festival-1
Dr. Lesley Simanton-Coogan, director of UNG's George E. Coleman Sr. Planetarium, will present a pre-recorded show called "Wonder Women of Astrophysics" for the Dahlonega Science Festival. It will be shown on the planetarium's YouTube page. The festival will be March 5-6.

Interactive is the key phrase for this year's Dahlonega Science Festival on March 5-6, as organizers transition to a virtual platform because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our goal to bring science education opportunities to the community," said Dr. Abby Meyer, associate professor of psychological science at the University of North Georgia (UNG) and one of the science festival organizers. "We will do that by broadcasting our activities, panels, and speakers via Zoom and Facebook Live, which will allow people to interact with us."

Young scientists may get hands-on involvement through video demonstrations thanks to the "Lab in a Bag." Offered by the Dahlonega Science Council, the $5 bag will contain supplies for the scientific activities to be completed at home. The bag may be picked up on March 5 near UNG's Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Cumming campuses. Lab in a Bag may be purchased in advance or reserved through the registration form on the council's website.

"If parents can't come by and pick up the bag, we will supply them with a materials list," Meyer said. "They can buy the supplies themselves, which will allow people from across the state to participate."

Once the activity is complete, participants are encouraged to post their projects on the Dahlonega Science Council's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and use #DahSciFest to win a raffle prize donated by community partners. The council is the main sponsor and organizer of the festival.

For those who may miss the kid-friendly sessions, pre-recorded videos of science experiments will be shared on the Dahlonega Science Council's YouTube page after the festival.

Conducting the science activities and serving as panelists or speakers will be several UNG student groups and faculty members. UNG students Amanda Ash and Rebecca Corley will conduct a live stream from the North Georgia Astronomical Observatory. Members of UNG's Society of Engineering Students will demonstrate how to build a bridge using toothpicks and marshmallows. UNG members of the Society of Physics students will perform a paper circuit lab. UNG students pursuing degrees in psychological science will conduct some experiments to test attention, sensory processing, and personality.

"These activities will allow kids and their families to engage in science opportunities and learn about the different fields," Meyer said.

For younger children, a brand-new digital science story time has been designed for them.

"We will read the story out loud and explain the science in the story," Meyer said, explaining the books will feature plants and animals.

This event developed from a partnership with the science council and Lumpkin County Library.  A new local community partner, The Bear Book Market in Dahlonega, has also compiled a list of science-related books available at the store. The list is available on the festival's website.

For the adult science enthusiasts, science-based panels and speakers with different presentations will pique their interests. Dr. Charles Blaha, a neuroscience researcher from the Mayo Clinic, will be the keynote speaker on March 5. Dr. Lesley Simanton-Coogan, director of UNG's George E. Coleman Sr. Planetarium, will present a pre-recorded show called "Wonder Women of Astrophysics." It will be shown on the planetarium's YouTube page.

"And we will have a panel discussing the COVID-19 pandemic and how people have responded and processed this world-changing event," Meyer said. "So we will discuss the most relevant topics."

During the sessions, viewers may ask questions in real-time since the festival will be broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live.

For more information and to register for the events, visit the Dahlonega Science Festival website.

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