Texas A&M University invites audiences across Texas, the nation and the world to get up-close and personal with science and technology outreach at the 2022 Physics and Engineering Festival, set for Saturday, April 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Building.
After canceling the 2020 festival and taking the 2021 event virtual for the first time ever in its nearly two-decade history due to the COVID pandemic, Texas A&M is gearing up to host a hybrid event that will feature a combination of in-person and livestreamed activities guaranteed to entertain, inform and inspire kids of all ages. As in past years, no fees or tickets are required for the free first-of-its-kind event, which will feature both virtual and hands-on demonstrations, keynote talks, live Q&A sessions with scientists and a legendary Texas-sized five-barrel depth charge.
Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. with virtual science demonstrations exclusively via livestream and conclude with a 3 p.m. public lecture by University of California, Berkeley astronomer and National Academy of Sciences member Alex Filippenko, an award-winning author and recipient of the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. Participants are encouraged to pay close attention to the day’s tentative schedule, given that some events may be exclusively in-person, exclusively livestreamed, or offered via both formats.
At 11 a.m., NASA astronaut and Texas A&M engineer Nancy J. Currie-Gregg will present Out of this world repairs–servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, the first of the day’s two keynote talks that will be delivered both in-person in the second-floor primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building as well as via livestream. Currie-Gregg, a professor of engineering practice at Texas A&M since 2017, accrued 1,000 hours in space as a mission specialist on four space shuttle missions, including STS-109, the fourth HST servicing mission in 2002. In addition, she helped to assemble the International Space Station while also logging more than 4,000 flying hours in a variety of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft.
From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., in-person participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists while taking in a bevy of fun experiments and displays illustrating hands-on science and basic technology-related concepts and principles. All exhibits are put on by Texas A&M faculty, staff and students. Simultaneously from noon to 2 p.m., online festival participants are invited to move from room to room while exploring and interacting via Zoom with scientists, who also will be responding to pre-submitted audience questions throughout the festival.
Other special events on tap include four performances of the Low-Temperature Physics Extravaganza (11:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:45 p.m.) as well an appearance by the Texas A&M Yell Leaders beginning at 2:15 p.m. Their informal Yell Practice will lead into the traditional grand finale of the day’s events portion, the popular, larger-than-life five-barrel depth charge featuring 1,000 plastic balls, set for 2:40 p.m. on the south side the Mitchell Physics Building and also viewable via livestream.
At 3 p.m., Filippenko will present the Mitchell Lecture, Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe, both in-person in the Mitchell Physics Building Primary Lecture Hall and via livestream. In addition to discussing the mysteries of dark energy, Filippenko will detail his experiences as the sole member of the two teams honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the accelerating expansion of the universe.
All events are presented by the Texas A&M Department Physics and Astronomy in partnership with several other campus units, including the Departments of Aerospace Engineering, Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics.
The 2022 hybrid event is sponsored by Halliburton, Marsha L. ’69 and Ralph F. Schilling ’68, Nancy and Robert L. Dunham ’63, Innolight Technology USA Inc., Col. Hal Schade ’67, Ramiro Galindo ’60, the College of Science, the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. Previous supporters that have made the annual festival possible include the Texas A&M University System, Dr. Charles R. ’62 and Judith G. Munnerlyn, ExxonMobil, the Willard and Anne Levin Foundation, Ahmed Mahmoud ’87, Michele Mobley ’87, Susan Sheskey, Purna C. Murthy ’88, CC Creations, Schlotzsky’s College Station, Pepsi and additional Spirit of Giving donors.
For the latest details regarding the 2022 Physics & Engineering Festival, including event directions and parking information, please visit https://physicsfestival.tamu.edu.
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