what makes a site?

Science In Vivo sites are the initiatives that teams take on. They may culminate in just a few hours of frenzied activity, or they may be a series of smaller actions spread across the calendar. Each site is represented here by the single live, in-person event that received a visit from a pair of observers and a videographer.

St. Pete Pride Parade

The Pride Parade in St. Petersburg is billed as Florida's largest, often drawing a crowd of 90,000. The parade begins at dusk, turning the streets of St. Pete into a massive, moving, nighttime celebration. The following day there is a large, family-friendly Pride festival. For several years, the organizers of the St. Pete Science Festival brought a table to the day-time festival, to hand out promotional materials and share some hands-on activities. In 2019 they joined the parade with their own colorful parade float. The float had a science of rainbows theme, was packed with dozens of volunteers dancing to a DJ's "science-themed club music," and was surrounded by a team on foot handing out thousands of diffraction glasses to the cheering crowd (these glasses make every light source look like a rainbow).

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Flagstaff Fourth of July Parade

The Fourth of July Parade in Flagstaff, Arizona is one of the largest events in the region, often drawing crowds of more than 20,000 to a city of some 70,000 people. The parade and surrounding events have brought together communities across Northern Arizona for decades. Similarly, the Flagstaff Festival of Science has celebrated annually since 1990. After nearly thirty years of being separate tentpole events for Flagstaff, the Festival hit upon the idea of joining in as part of the parade. In 2019 the Festival teamed up with the CoCoRAS, a youth robotics club, to march in the parade and pay tribute to Flagstaff’s role in U.S. moon landings.

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Startorialist At The Grand Bazaar

Several years ago a small team of astrophysicists presented a conference research poster detailing how a few science-themed fashion accessories could effectively communicate science. The merchandise generated such interest that the team soon found themselves setting up shop as a vendor at scientific conferences to sell science-inspired clothing and fashion accessories under the banner of “Startorialist.” In 2019 Startorialist took its first foray into a public market by securing a booth at the Grand Bazaar on New York City’s Upper West Side. In addition to market success (connecting customers to the brand and turning a profit), the goal was to explore how retail interactions could lead to science engagement experiences.

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The Science Boutique

For Charity Southworth, the Science Boutique is the right blend of artistic expression, science inspiration, and public interaction. Most of the Science Boutique’s science-themed merchandise is hand crafted by Charity, and she enjoys selling these items directly at vending booths in public markets. For years her business has been both profitable and personally fulfilling, and she hopes that the Science Boutique serves as a unique way to engage the public in science as well. In 2019, the Science Boutique set up shop at Boston’s Greenway Market, and Charity invited a friend (and science educator) along to try using the retail interactions as entry points to science engagement conversations.

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Over the years, the team behind the Atlanta Science Festival has worked with hundreds of collaborators to stage thousands of events across the metro area. Yet, as a small team, they rarely get the chance to dedicate time to building relationships with a community in just one neighborhood. When they learned that Atlanta Streets Alive had selected the Cascade Corridor neighborhood for an event in 2019, the Festival saw its opening. Atlanta Streets Alive worked with neighborhoods in the area to shut down Cascade Boulevard to vehicles for a day so that people living there could enjoy walking, biking, and special events on the street. The Festival worked with local collaborators to set up a scavenger hunt leading people to different science experiences along Cascade throughout the day. This site was part of a set of Science In Vivo awards emphasizing process over product.

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Science Haven

A small group of graduate students in the sciences at Yale were feeling a disconnect between the resources at their disposal while on campus, and the experience of living in the surrounding neighborhoods of New Haven, Connecticut. Their plan to address this? Show up at community meetings in their neighborhoods, and listen to the priorities of their neighbors. Over time this led to invitations to participate in neighborhood gatherings, from backyard barbeques to block parties. In the fall of 2019, the team joined in the fun at the Dwight Fall Festival and had the chance to share their science with the neighbors they had met along the way. This site was part of a set of Science In Vivo awards emphasizing process over product.

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DragonCon Parade

Part fantasy convention, part SciFi convention, part everything else, DragonCon has become one of the biggest gatherings of its kind, drawing attendees to Atlanta from around the world. The convention even includes a busy science track of its own, with panels on scientific research and science communication. Knowing that this annual event is too big to miss, the Atlanta Science Festival has had a presence at DragonCon for years, taking over a busy hallway for a family-friendly, hands-on science zone for two days. In 2019 the team started looking for a way to join in and participate in an essential aspect of DragonCon, and the convention’s big public parade was the obvious first choice. This parade empties out of the convention and onto the streets of Atlanta, drawing huge local crowds and extensive television coverage. This site is included in two Science In Vivo categories: Science on Parade, and Con_Science.

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Science CosPlay

Long Beach ComicCon is so popular that it meets twice a year in Southern California. For the Columbia Memorial Space Center, a museum in south central Los Angeles, it has offered a great opportunity for community outreach for several years. The Center plays a role in developing the convention’s science track of presentations featuring scientists and engineers. It also staffs an area on the exhibit floor, with family-friendly hands-on activities. By 2019, the Center was looking for ways to join in with the lively spirit of the convention, so they added a live band to their area and sponsored a “science” award in one of the convention’s main events: the CosPlay Contest.

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