Why You Don't Want to Miss the 2018 Atlanta Science Festival

Major nerd alert, y'all.

Founded by Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Science Festival is now in its fifth year and is making a big bang with a two-week calendar packed with more than 100 engaging events across Metro Atlanta. From trying edible insects to building your own drone, and a Pi Day Extravaganza to an investigation of a mock crime scene, there is something for anyone and any age to enjoy. The line-up also includes three events created especially for educators with a focus on strengthening success and leadership in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

The festival kicks off with its signature launch party at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Ferst Center for the Arts on March 9 at 7 pm. This year’s theme “Rise Up, Robots!” shine the spotlight on a droid comedian, a robot musician and an squad of interactive robots. Tickets: $15. 

The grand finale is a free, interactive Exploration Expo at Piedmont Park on March 24. Here’s just a glimpse at what is happening in-between during this year’s festival.

Mark your calendar for the free, interactive Exploration Exploration on March 24

Getting a Taste of Science

Join local treasure High Road Craft Ice Cream on March 10 as they share the science and engineering behind one of Atlanta’s favorite desserts. Located at their Marietta Tasting Room, this “Ice Cream Science” event includes touring the facility to see the chemistry going on behind the scenes, and, of course, getting a taste of their unique creations. The tasting room is open from 10 am-2 pm, and tours take place at 10:30 am, 11:30 am and 1 pm. While you’re there, don’t miss the ice cream chef demo at noon. This event was designed with children, teens and adults in mind, and is free with advance registration.

Come visit a real-life science lab— an organic farm! This scavenger hunt-style event allows ages 5-12 to romp around Truly Living Well (Collegetown Location) located right inside the city. Come prepared to get your hands a little dirty. The fun starts at noon on March 18 and continues until 5 pm. Tickets: $3 (available on-site only). 

As some of the leaders of Atlanta’s craft beer movement, brewmasters at Monday Night Brewing’s The Garage worked with Shades of Green Permaculture to design an organic orchard that produces wild yeast. How do the flavors of the plants and fruits end up in each pint? Learn about the science of sour beers at this adult-only event on March 18 from 1-3 pm. Tickets: $15. 

Amphibians, Anyone?

Atlanta is home to a unique nonprofit dedicated to the conservation and research of amphibians amidst a global population decline. In 2016, The Amphibian Foundation formed to focus on conserving two of Georgia’s most imperiled species, Gopher Frogs and the Flatwoods Salamanders. Throughout the festival, there are a few opportunities to get to know their staff and their mission better—and even get up close and personal with some amphibians and reptiles. On March 11 from 2-4:30 pm, guests can visit the Foundation—otherwise closed to the public—and see the conservation collections firsthand. Both the event and on-site parking are free.

Want more? Become “citizen scientists” during a City Salamander Stroll from 10-11:30 am on March 7 at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve in Decatur. All ages are invited to attend the nature walk, and smartphones are encouraged for snapping photos and uploading to iNaturalist. On March 18 from 4-6 pm, the Foundation hits the road to Decatur’s Kavarna Coffeehouse for a (completely safe!) live exhibit of Georgia’s most notorious, viper—also know as the Copperhead— and a discussion on the snake’s role in local ecology.

Kid with reptile

Gems of STEM

Join Atlanta Science Festival for an interactive panel discussion that will enlighten and empower girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Panelists including a number theorist, web developers and a physics and astronomy expert on black holes—just to name a few— share advice and guidance to girls and young women. The goal is to help the audience to understand the possibilities and impact STEM careers offer. The discussion is moderated by Stephanie Espy, author of “STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, And How You Can Too!” and founder of MathSP Academic and Test Prep Coaching. The event is held at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School on March 10 from 10-11:30 am. Bonus: you’ll walk away with some STEM Gems swag and a handout of the 44 STEM Gems and careers represented in the book STEM Gems. Copies of Espy’s book will also be available for purchase. Tickets: $5 (parents attending with their children are free).

Inspiring curiousity in young minds is an important part of the festival’s mission.

Another opportunity to be inspired by the stories of local women and minorities who have paved incredible career paths, this panel discussion features voices from a diverse set of scientific fields and a keynote by Espy. Hear about panelists’ surprises, setbacks and successes—and come prepared to ask questions. This free event is held March 22 from 7-9 pm in Williams Hall at Oxford College, and is recommended for teens and adults. 

Find the full calendar of events on Atlanta Science Festival's website, and mark your calendar for the Exploration Expo, where the curious can touch a human brain, drive an undersea robot, make a pollen map and so much more. Held rain or shine in Piedmont Park, check out the free fun between noon-4 pm. The 2017 Exploration Expo welcomed 19,000 people, and since the inaugural Festival in 2014, Atlanta Science Festival has reached more than 150,000 people. 

Colleen Ann McNally
About the author

Colleen Ann McNally is the Atlanta and Nashville editor for Where, and has called the South home for 20 years and cou...