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.
Everyone at a parade is a part of the action, but it is usually clear who is actually on parade and who is not. This clear distinction makes parades a great entry point for considering situated engagement. All of the veteran teams with sites featured here could easily throw together outreach tables at the end of a parade route, but actually joining a parade was a very new experience. Creatively putting “parade technology” to use involves so much more than just hitching up a trailer for a parade float. For science outreach, it means rethinking everything from basic messaging, to who shows up, to overall goals and expectations. And it sure is worth it. Hear why from the teams and observers involved in three Science In Vivo sites: St. Pete Pride Parade, DragonCon Parade, and the Flagstaff Fourth of July Parade. The audio highlights here are from final critiques in 2019 and a group category conversation in 2021.
Fantasy and SciFi Conventions celebrate super-fans, and in that respect they have much in common with other conventions for hobbyists and enthusiasts. However, they also celebrate self-expression, so are generally open and welcoming spaces. Integrating science engagement into a Con while honoring the dedication of passionate fans can be a bit of a tightrope walk. This means both proceeding with caution, and recognizing and embracing wildly creative energy that others can bring to your mission. And it is worth it. Hear why from the teams and observers involved in two Science In Vivo sites: Science CosPlay, and the DragonCon Parade. The audio highlights here are from final critiques in 2019 and a group category conversation in 2021.