A 5th Anniversary look at where the MSU Science Festival began- A bit of history…
The idea for the MSU Science Festival first took root in 2011, when Renee Leone attended her first Science Festival hosted by the prestigious University of Cambridge (UK). During this event, world-class scientists presented on the latest innovations in science and technology. The experiences were so inspiring that upon returning to Michigan, Renee wrote up a proposal for a similar Michigan-based science festival and scheduled with Dr. Hiram Fitzgerald, Associate Provost of Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University (UOE-MSU), to present and discuss the idea. Dr. Fitzgerald enthusiastically embraced the idea and invited Renee to coordinate the festival on the spot!
As co-founder and coordinator, Renee Leone launched the inaugural MSU Science Festival in 2013 and fulfilled the vision of a multi-day Science Festival for life-long learners of all ages: a festival celebrating science and related disciplines of technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), all through a variety of presentation topics and formats. In the four years that followed, the Festival has expanded from an event consisting of over 100 presentations offered primarily by MSU faculty and students on the MSU East Lansing Campus, to a Festival with a statewide presence, inclusive of more than sixty external presentation partners, and forty venues in fifteen cities across the state. The MSU Science Festival is now one of the few festivals in the nation with a statewide reach, and which host the most diverse formats and topics.
An endeavor such as the MSU Science Festival could not be achieved without the contributions of many talented individuals. Several extraordinary assistant coordinators have helped over the years, including: Blair Zaid (2013), Anne Grevstad and Young Mi Choi-DeYoung (2014), and for the last three years Roxanne Truhn and Katherine Hagman (2015-present). Roxanne has been a leader in expanding the Festival’s Nights at the Museums and school programming, as has Katherine with leading the expansion of the Festival’s Science Café/Pub Nights and volunteer program. Jena Baker-Calloway, Carolyn Walker, and Charles Saadiq, of the MSU Detroit Center, also have been key in the development of the Festival’s Detroit Expo Day, initiated in 2014, and Shannon Schmoll has helped expand the Festival’s Statewide Astronomy Night network of participants.
MSU support teams from the National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement, and the Community Evaluation and Research Collaborative have helped make it possible to develop a gorgeous and functional website, marketing materials that capture the imagination, and an evaluation that allows the festival to grow and improve.
We hope all members of our Michigan communities (and visitors from out of state!) enjoy the events and activities the MSU Science Festival has to offer. May the wonders of science spark your curiosity and inspire your imagination!
Thank you to all the Festival’s many partners, presenters, sponsors, and volunteers for their dedication to making free science related experiences available to our communities.
These first five years of the Festival have been an extraordinary journey of growth and discovery, and we look forward to finding out what the next five will bring!