Students jump-start Philly Science Festival

    Kids at dozens of Philadelphia public schools helped kick off the first Philadelphia Science Festival Friday morning. They hopped for 30 seconds starting at exactly 11 a.m. in hopes of registering a seismic event, jump-starting two weeks of science with a massive science experiment.

    About 500 kids gathered on the playground outside Albert Greenfield Elementary in Center City. They counted down to 11 a.m. and started hopping.

    A laptop with an accelerometer, the same tool that tells iPhones when they have been turned sideways, measured vibrations in the area. The line graph on the computer showed a bump while the students jumped.

    Derek Pitts, head astronomer at the Franklin Institute, emceed the event.

    “We can’t say this effect will be felt far and wide, because in comparison to real earthquake events, this is hardly even measurable,” Pitts said. “But for this locality right here, it’s a big event and it shows up as such on the laptop.”

    The nuance may have been lost on first-grader Jakob Lehmann.

    “We jumped for 30 seconds to try and make an earthquake,” he said.

    He and the rest of the city will have a chance to explore science over the next two weeks, at lectures, workshops and hands-on activities scheduled around the city. The science festival will take over Logan Circle on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday with a science carnival.

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