What most people probably don’t know is that San Antonio is also recognized as a national hotspot for bioscience research and innovation.
Home to the facilities such as The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, and the Southwest National Primate Research Center to name a few- San Antonio boasts a rich scientific research community with a unique wealth of resources that simply cannot be found elsewhere.
In a festive spirit much like that of San Antonio’s beloved Fiesta, on March 5th, 2016 La Villita in downtown San Antonio will play host to the inaugural year of Science Fiesta. The overall goal of Science Fiesta is to showcase the unparalleled research that is going on in San Antonio through festivities geared towards the non-scientific community.
Block holds the position of president for San Antonio Science which is the non-profit organization backing Science Fiesta among its other current science enrichment initiatives in the community. Science Fiesta is being organized by Block and graduate student volunteers of the UT Health Science Center. “We wanted a way to bring together the research community, policy-makers and the general public to celebrate science in San Antonio,” said Block, a Texan native and a biomedical engineering graduate student.
As an aspiring stem cell researcher nearing completion of his Ph.D., Block always opens discussion about his motivation behind Science Fiesta with a tale that is well known among all scientists.
“Someone will ask me what I do and I will reply ‘Science.’ Before I can go any further many people will try to stop me right there and claim that they have no hope of understanding anything I have to say about my line of work. But of course that isn’t true.” Block explained.
The ‘communication of ideas’ is one of the fundamental components at the core science itself- however in this day and age that line of effective communication, especially communication between scientists and the public, is often lost. Block’s vision for the festivities of Science Fiesta is to make science fun and accessible for all attendees and raise awareness of the immense resources in San Antonio that make our city unique.
As one of the events of Science Fiesta, academic posters will be presented in La Villita’s main plaza at the San Antonio Science Exhibition. Research projects will be showcased through visually engaging posters specially targeted for an all-ages audience.
Presenters at all academic levels are invited to participate in the exhibition by submitting abstracts here and preparing posters geared towards community members.
Following the theme of visually engaging attendees in science, the main plaza of La Villita will also feature displays of science themed art contributed by local artists and scientists alike.
Other events on the day of Science Fiesta will include a feature presentation from David Epistein, acclaimed author of The Sports Gene, and a science policy panel featuring speakers from the local, state, and national policy making levels.
The varied components of Science Fiesta aim to spotlight science from the many different perspectives that it plays a crucial role in- these different roles of science in the community being perspectives that many people may not have considered before.
Science Fiesta will also enthusiastically cater to San Antonio youth by featuring an interactive area geared towards middle to high school aged attendees as one of day’s main exhibitions. Interactive science exhibits will be provided by The Hill Country Science Mill and the San Antonio STEM Museum.
Younger attendees can expect to participate in the festivities of Science Fiesta through hands on activities that emphasize the excitement of science through discovery rather than learning science through memorization or reading from a textbook.
As another youth centered event of Science Fiesta, participants from 118 local K-12 schools will come together the week leading up to Science Fiesta to assemble the world’s largest periodic table of the elements.
San Antonio Science, Inc. has provided partnering student groups with the supplies needed to illustrate one square from the periodic table on a 12’ by 15’ foot tarp- all 118 elements will ultimately be combined at the grand unveiling event to comprise the record breaking periodic table exceeding 22,000 square feet in size.
Science Fiesta’s World Record Attempt is projected to take place on the evening of March 2nd at San Antonio’s Gustafson Football Stadium.
Participants, family and friends of students are invited to attend the unveiling event to celebrate their role in this record breaking piece of San Antonio history. In the same light as Science Fiesta’s overall goal, the purpose of the World Record Attempt is to foster excitement about science through this once in a lifetime event.
Of course, no San Antonio fiesta would be complete without music, food trucks, and margaritas! Science Fiesta is thrilled to welcome attendees of all ages, professions, and backgrounds to join in the celebration of “Science in Old San Antonio.”
“As a scientist and San Antonioan, I have a great passion for improving the communication of science to the community,” Block said. “Through Science Fiesta, I want to help San Antonio understand that the great science going on in our own city is a tremendous strength that our community should be building on for its future.”