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.
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.