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Since 2010, the North Carolina Science Festival has been providing science for all, according to their motto.

The festival, which takes place every spring, is a statewide program that promotes STEM awareness and accessibility and features events on a plethora of scientific topics all over the state

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone has access to STEM," community education specialist Nikitta Grillo said. "One of our goals has always been to reach all 100 counties, in which we have increased from 63 last year to 84 counties this year with a public event."

One of the festival's events has already reached all 100 N.C. counties, she said. The Duke Energy Science Night program allows children and families to explore science through programs that are held in schools after instruction hours and take place in schools across the state.

While the festival is centered on teaching children and high schoolers about science, many events are for all ages or catered to adult students, scholars and enthusiasts. Some events, like the SciMatch program, even cross these streams, allowing grade schoolers to learn from college-level professors, scholars and students. 

The festival is produced by the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on UNC's campus, and under its purview is the annual UNC Science Expo, which took place on April 6 this year.

“We act as the overarching organizer,” Morehead Planetarium communications specialist Will Freund said. “We basically take in all of the events that are happening, and then we help collect all the events and post them together on the event website.”

The first N.C. Science Festival took place 14 years ago. Todd Boyette, co-founder of the festival and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center director, said that the idea for the festival came from the citywide Cambridge Science Festival sponsored by MIT Museum — one of the first American takes on the European science festival model.

But, still, they expanded the idea in one key way — size.

“No one had done one statewide before,”  Boyette said. “It was the first statewide science festival in the country.”

Following the long-running success of the festival, many of the organizations involved in the festival partner up separately to hold their own events, he said.

“We’re elevating STEM education by creating a network of partners that can work together for this, and for other things,” Boyette said. “That strengthens the state’s ecosystem of science education.”

This growth allows their goal of science for all to become a reality by empowering and connecting other partners.

The NC Science Festival is taking place through the end of April and has over two dozen events remaining in the Triangle this year. Most recently, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center hosted a solar eclipse watch party on their front lawn during the April 8 solar eclipse. 

"We decided that we can't be a part of the flagship science university in the state and not do science for the state," Boyette said.

@dthlifestyle |

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