Philly Science Festival presents hands-on events as a way into the world of science

    It’s the nerdiest time of the year in Philadelphia — the Science Festival is underway with more than 90 events all over the city, touching on everything from making chocolate to understanding fear.

    The goal of the nine-day event series is to provide a fun and engaging entry point into the world of science.

    “We’re a society that’s completely consumed with all things science and technological, yet the American public is more and more science illiterate,” said Frederic Bertley, senior vice president for science and education at the Franklin Institute, which organizes the festival.

    Most of the events have a hands-on component — and all of them are interactive.

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    “If you want some people to learn some stuff, if you have multiple modalities of learning, and especially hands on, people can learn things,” Bertley said. “They way the brain forms networks, they harden faster and your memories last longer.”

    Bryn Mawr math professor Victor Donnay just set a world record during a very hands-on science festival event. Together with children and college students, he built the world’s biggest two-dimensional Sierpinski triangle at the Wagner Free Institute of Science. It’s basically a huge triangle made of many smaller triangles. His hope was to create some excitement around geometry.

    “Unfortunately, with so much testing in our educational system today, there’s a focus not on the beauty and excitement of mathematics, but more on the technical skills,” he said.

    The Science Festival, which attracts around 100,000 visitors, will wrap up Saturday with a science carnival at Penn’s Landing.

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