The Event that Almost Wasn’t: Huntsville Science Festival Goes Virtual

Leave it to 2020 to throw a wrench in things.

In the Huntsville area, which prides itself on creativity and innovation, shifting gears has been the norm. 

Shifting gears. And that’s exactly what Huntsville Science Festival has done. By migrating to the virtual platform, the event is ready to roll.

In its inaugural year, Huntsville Science Festival/PPG STEAMfest 2020: Science at Home is a weeklong celebration of science, highlighting all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). 

From Oct. 24-31, participants can learn about astronomy, backyard biology, umbrella rockets, killer kudzu, dinosaurs, squirrels, genetics, robots, music, food, and beer!

All events are free and open to the public. Presentations will feature speakers from a variety of organizations; HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Innerspace Brewing, RadioBro, Von Braun Astronomical Society, Leonardo Project LLC, and more.

As an affiliate of MIT’s Science Festival Alliance, Huntsville Science Festival is only one of two national science festivals that has survived COVID.

The event was initially scheduled to be hosted at the Von Braun Center. Then, along came the pandemic. As a result, the Las Vegas Science Festival, now in its 10th year, has been postponed to 2021. The Atlanta Festival canceled midweek. 

Huntsville’s Festival was teetering on cancellation, as well.

“We were considering that” said Joe Iocuzzo, event organizer. “Then, decided that we could make it a virtual event.” 

The festival kicks off with the Von Braun Astronomical Society Astronomical Day and its “Astronomy for Everyone.” In this presentation, participants will be virtually transported to the VBAS Observatory to see live viewing through telescopes! 

“The Science Festival is not just for kids,” said Iocuzzo. 

A few of the presentations that may pique the interest of the grown-ups include Innerspace Brewery’s “Beer: Sudsy Science.” Participants will learn that there’s more to beer than what meets the eye, or the tastebuds.

Heidi Kizer from the Bakingtist will present “Baking Science: Bread Balloon Bonanza.” Kizer, a “sourdough bread-slinging, pastry-providin’, and MegaCookie-making baker” will demonstrate how science can be delicious and nutritious. 

And for those squirrel lovers among us, there’s “Squirrely Personalities: Amazing Facts About Those Backyard Critters” presented by Dr. Amanda Kelly of the College of Charleston. 

All events can be accessed through the festival website. Although some of the presentations are previously recorded, there will be live Q&A sessions after each presentation.

Several of the classes require supplies. Free kits are available at any of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library branches. Due to limited supply, calling ahead for availability is highly recommended. Curbside pick-up will also be available.

In addition to the presentations, there will be an auction in support of the Science Festival Alliance. Items include an original painting by paleo artist Dr. Julius Csotonyi, one of the foremost scientific illustrators in the world; a coin with embedded art by Dr. Alexandra LeFort, a planetary scientist and artist; and book by Iocuzzo, “Last Day of the Dinosaur Mummy.” 

For information, visit huntsvillescience.org/