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Dahlonega Science Festival bringing hands-on experiences to all ages
2018 Dahlonega Science Fesitval 1.jpg
Andrew Ladd, second from left, explains the physics behind roller coasters at the Dahlonega Science Festival in 2018. Photo courtesy of UNG.

There’s one place you can get up close with science next weekend: the Dahlonega Science Festival.

The community event being hosted by the University of North Georgia in tandem with the Dahlonega Literary Festival is planned for March 1-3 throughout downtown Dahlonega.

“When you put things at the university, people think that it’s a university event,” said Donna Governor, co-chair of the festival and assistant professor at the university. “And we do want this to be a community event. We want community involved.”

Spread across the downtown area — from Shenanigans Irish Restaurant and Pub to Dahlonega’s old jail — will be different activities for the whole family.

At the old jail, guests will learn about the science behind forensics and get to take part in different challenges, identifying different aspects of crime scenes and learning about them along the way. They’ll get to take part in an escape room, too.

At the university’s health and natural sciences building, guests will get to learn about the physics behind the circus, as circus performers teach about the strength and skill it takes to perform some of their acts.

The Dahlonega Community House will have hands-on activities for attendees to learn about astronomy, psychology, neuroscience, ecology, chemistry, entomology and more.

The festival is meant for the whole family, and Governor said she hopes everyone will get involved.

“We want to highlight the fact that science is a community thing,” Governor said. “We don’t want anyone feeling intimidated. We want people to feel welcome and that the community is a part of it.”

While there are also different talks given by scientists and academics throughout the festival, Governor wanted to make sure this year’s festival had more hands-on activities than last year’s event, so Governor and Sonny Mantry, co-chair of the festival and also an assistant professor at the university, spent six months planning interactive events.

“It’s not just about sitting and listening,” Governor said. “Sometimes it’s a hands-on endeavor … It gives you a chance to engage in science instead of just listen to it.”

Governor said introducing children to science and involving families is an important part of education, especially while there’s a growing need for people in science, technology, engineering and math careers, so hosting a science festival that features activities and chances to learn about STEM is why she is so passionate about it.

“It’s about getting kids excited about science, and getting them to see it is helpful,” Governor said. “So many people don't see science and that interactive side of science, so encouraging that and encouraging the family involvement is so important.”

“I’m excited about it all,” she added. “I’m excited about the diversity of experiences we have.”

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