Festival Highlights Tucson as a Leader in Science and Technology

January 12, 2012

By Teya Vitu

Science and technology will take center stage Downtown on February 18 for the first Arizona SciTech Festival, which has some 250 events around the state in January, February and March.

Science in the City, presented by 2ndSaturdays, will transform Downtown into one big science center from 2 to 6 p.m. Retailers will explain what role science plays at their shops, and many science displays will be up at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, the Children’s Museum, Science Downtown’s courtyard and at City High School.

A model of the Phoenix Mars Lander is on display now at "Mars and Beyond" at the Rialto Exhibition Center.

“You may not realize that Tucson is a leader in science,” said Don Ruedy, the festival’s Tucson coordinator. “We’ve got a lot of things here in Tucson that people might not realize. We want to expose the people to all this. The whole idea is to help with the branding of Tucson as a Science City.”

SciTech Festival has other events in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Pinal County and elsewhere in Arizona. But Tucson is the state’s science capital.

“In the words of the state director (Jeremy Babendure), Tucson already had the essence of a science technology festival and we’re just adding it together,” Ruedy said. “Not only the University of Arizona but all of Tucson has science and innovation going on and Tucson is a leader in many worlds.”

SciTech’s founding partners are the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, Arizona State University and the Arizona Science Center.

Tucson’s SciTech Festival is still a work in progress and exhibitors are still welcome to pitch ideas for booths and displays. Contact Ruedy at 299-7982 or druedy@aztechcouncil.org.

A Mathematics Road Show, Zero Gravity, Physics Factory and a rocketry demonstration are already in the line up.

A lot on Congress Street between Stone and Scott avenues will become Interactive Park, where, as the name implies, people can interact with science.

Science Downtown at the Rialto Exhibition Center is already a full-time science festival, now staging “Mars and Beyond” from the University of Arizona. SciTech Festival will bring down UA scientists to showcase even more science projects and talk about things like the Phoenix Lander and Biosphere 2.

Pima County Joint Technological Education District, comprised of dozens of local high schools, will have displays at the Children’s Museum, and students from fifth grade through high school will show off science projects at the Main Library.

“2nd Saturdays is the major sponsor for this event and is connecting us with merchants,” Ruedy said, acknowledging that SciTech Fest falls on the third Saturday. “They want to have more Saturday night things Downtown.”

More details are at www.azscitechfest.org.

The Arizona SciTech Festival is not just a way to show off science and technology to the public. The grassroots initiative is building a collaboration among scientific, education and business communities to build excitement for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and inspire a generation of Arizonans to become leaders and innovators in science and technology.

Some 300 public and private organizations from industry, business, education, arts and culture, philanthropy and the community are working together to stage the hundreds of SciTech Festival events, including Tucson’s Science in the City.