For the first time since 2018, the St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest will return to an in-person experience that will engage curiosity and deepen knowledge of science and the arts.
The joint festival will connect scientists, environmental organizations and cultural institutions with the public via immersive exhibits and hands-on demonstrations in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).
The event will take place on Saturday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the waterfront of the USF St. Petersburg campus and outside the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in downtown St. Petersburg.
“People have been coming up to event organizers and asking us, ‘When is the Science Festival coming back?’ We are thrilled to finally say it is happening,” said Howard Rutherford, St. Petersburg Science Festival co-chair and associate vice president of development at the USF St. Petersburg campus. “This family-friendly event has really become part of the fabric of our community in St. Pete.”
In 2019, the festival was cancelled due to Tropical Storm Nestor, and in 2020 and 2021, it was transitioned to a remote event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, event organizers decided to move the festival from October to the following February, to avoid coinciding with the height of hurricane season.
Now finally back in person, attendees will enjoy the thrill of discovery via energetic activities and experiments. This year’s exhibits come from institutions such as NASA, the Florida Aquarium, the USF College of Marine Science and many, many more. Participants will learn how to start a fire, deconstruct a computer and track aquatic animals in their environment.
“We have had just a tremendous response from our community based on the many organizations that want to be at this event and show the public what they are doing in these fields,” said Alison Barlow, St. Petersburg Science Festival co-chair and executive director of the St. Petersburg Innovation District. “There will be fantastic opportunities to really get engaged with science, technology and arts happening in our backyard.”
More than 800 school children will be treated to a sneak peek of the St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest during organized school trips on Friday, February 17. During the preview, students will learn about getting involved in STEAM fields and different career paths, as well as have the opportunity to sit in a Grand Prix of St. Petersburg demo car to learn about the science of speed.
On Saturday, the festival hosts the Junior Scientists program, where middle and high school students will get a chance to work alongside a science professional. The growing interest in STEAM subjects and career opportunities for students was a major reason for establishing the festival.
“Career opportunities in STEAM fields are continuing to increase and it is imperative that we introduce children to these opportunities and provide access to explore possible careers,” Barlow said.
The joint event with MarineQuest, which has taken place for nearly 30 years, has attracted up to 25,000 visitors in past years.
“The interest and enthusiasm we see for science is why we started MarineQuest 28 years ago, and why we continue to partner with the St. Petersburg Science Festival to promote the value of science to our society and provide an opportunity for Floridians of all ages to learn about Florida’s fish, wildlife and their habitats,” said Gil McRae, director of the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
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