Today (April 10, 2015) marks the first day of the 2015 North Carolina Science Festival ... and it's amazing to think that five years have passed since Morehead created this incredible celebration of science waaaaaaaay back in 2010.
This year, the Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary AND we expect to recognize and honor the one-millionth participant at a Festival event! When and where will that happen? We're not sure yet, but we're watching the attendance numbers for every event (and there are hundreds of Festival events!) closely.
The one-millionth participant could be you! And we'll let you in on a secret ... our friends at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium have made it possible for us to give the one-millionth participant a special prize. That's right: The North Carolina Science Festival's one-millionth participant will receive tickets to a show on April 29 featuring Adam and Jamie of Mythbusters fame. (That's a pretty good incentive for you to visit Festival events, although you already have plenty of wonderful reasons -- fun, adventure, one-of-a-kind science experiences and more!)
If you've followed the North Carolina Science Festival since the beginning, you probably recognize that the prize is a throwback to the first years of the Festival, when Adam and Jamie presented Festival shows in Chapel Hill and in Charlotte. In fact, the show in Chapel Hill during our first Festival drew more than 5,000 people -- our first big event -- and helped convince us that the Festival was going to be very, very popular with North Carolinians!
So from the perspective of five years, the Festival team at Morehead (and that means every Morehead employee) can look back and think, "Wow." With your support and with the involvement of thousands of Festival partners throughout North Carolina, we've accomplished a lot:
- We created the first statewide science festival in the United States, and now there are more than a dozen statewide festivals, along with several dozen city-based festivals.
- The North Carolina Science Festival has played, and continues to play, a big role in the growth of science festivals nationally. Our team provides leadership for two National Science Foundation-funded projects -- one for the Science Festival Alliance and one for EvalFest -- that are working to identify the best practices of science festivals and help them serve more people.
- We've created programming for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and higher education. And we've developed partnerships between those groups. For example, our Invite-a-Scientist program brings university researchers into middle school classrooms to talk about having a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
- We are the first statewide science festival to have its own endowment, with a $1,000,000 gift from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund this year.
- We've gathered libraries, parks, businesses, community colleges, museums and many other organizations in our state together for a single purpose.
- Did we mention that, as of this year's Festival, more than one million people will have participated in Festival events?
Those are great, powerful, stupendous accomplishments. But you know what? Our hearts burst with pride most often when we're at a Festival event anywhere in the state and we watch people of all ages get so very excited about what they are learning. Science is an incredible way to bring people together and to enrich our lives. We are so proud to be part of this, and we consider it to be one of Morehead's most important contributions to our state.
Happy fifth anniversary, North Carolina Science Festival! And friends, we'll see you at Festival events throughout the next two weeks.