STEM, Philly Style: Philly Tech Week and Science Festival

When you think of April, rain and spring flowers might come to mind. In the Philly area, though, April means something different. It’s a month to celebrate all things STEM, thanks to the arrival of the Science Festival and Philly Tech Week.

Science and technology power the world people live in today. That means that in recent years, there’s been more and more focus on tech and science programs throughout the country, with schools zeroing in on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs and entire events being created around those subjects. In April, people living in Philadelphia will have a chance to see what technology means in the city when Philly Tech Week gets underway, quickly followed by the annual Science Festival.

Philly Tech Week

Like other events described as a “week” in Philadelphia (such as the two-week long Restaurant Week), Philly Tech Week actually runs for nine days, from April 17 until April 25. The event, which is sponsored by Comcast and organized by Technically Philly, features talks, demonstrations, and other activities. In 2014, more than 25,000 people attended and had more than 130 events to choose from over the course of the festival’s nine days.

You don’t have to be in the tech industry or even particularly tech-focused to attend one of the week’s events. While some of the talks might get a little deep, other events are designed with a general audience in mind. For example, the kick-off party, scheduled for April 17 at the recently redesigned Dilworth Park, will feature a beer garden as well as performances and live music.

Another highlight of Tech Week is the various one-day conferences scheduled throughout it. Divided into tracks such as business, development, and creative, each conference will focus on specific issues in the tech world and will help attendees better use technology in their lives and professional endeavors. The events aren’t limited to one part of the city, but will take place in neighborhoods across Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Science Festival

The Philadelphia Science Festival comes hot on the heels of Philly Tech Week, kicking off on April 24 and lasting until May 2. Billed as a celebration of science for the entire community, the festival’s events take place across the city and are intended for a wide audience. A highlight of the festival, which is in its fifth year, is the Science Carnival that closes it.

Taking place along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, home of the Franklin Institute and other museums, the outdoor carnival features a number of live performances, science experiments, and games. You might have the opportunity to make your own slime, for example, or the chance to pretend to be a crime scene investigator and learn more about forensics.

Star gazing parties will take place in the evening at several sites across the city, such as Historic Fair Hill and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Other events include a workshop on DIY mead and cider brewing, a discussion on building better row homes, and a cookie-making lab.

Forget what you thought about your high school science and technology classes. Philly Tech Week and the Science Festival are here to show you that STEM doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it can be very, very fun.

Image Source: Flickr/Kevin Jarrett

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