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St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest go virtual this year

Jaymi Butler

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The St. Petersburg Science Festival
The St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest will be held virtually this year on Friday and Saturday. Typically, the joint event attracts up to 20,000 attendees.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the cancelation of event after event, but organizers of the popular St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest knew they’d find a way to make it work.

And while this year’s festival, which will be held virtually Friday and Saturday, won’t feature the same type of hands-on activities and in-person demonstrations that have long been hallmarks of the event, the festival will continue to shine a spotlight on the important role science plays in our society, something that’s especially critical now.

“Being able to pivot this year’s St. Petersburg Science Festival to an online virtual platform is an innovative, engaging and evergreen approach to public science education,” said festival co-chair E. Howard Rutherford. “The need for understanding how science is relevant in our everyday lives is more important than ever, given the events of this year.”

The festival kicks off Friday with a sneak peek for elementary school students who will be able to explore the fields of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art, and math – and see live demos and participate in interactive activities from a variety of exhibitors, including the Clearwater Aquarium, MOSI and the St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab. Ideally, these events will get children thinking about future career paths.

“Career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math are continuing to increase, but youth in our community may have a certain perspective of who works in those fields that causes them to have difficulty seeing these careers as viable options,” said Alison Barlow, executive director of the St. Pete Innovation District. “In reality, today’s STEAM professionals are young, possessing diverse backgrounds and often working outdoors. It is imperative that we introduce children to STEAM opportunities and provide access to explore possible careers.”

Other festival events include presentations from the USF College of Marine Science, the Dali Musuem and the St. Petersburg City Theater. MarineQuest, which is the annual open house for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute held jointly with the Science Festival, will feature virtual visits with researchers studying right whales, sea turtles and freshwater fish. 

For more information, including the list of exhibitors and daily schedules, visit www.stpetescifest.org.

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