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Science of sound keynote to highlight 10th annual Science Festival

Randolph students demonstrate a science experiment on Science Day 2017.Have you ever wondered how a small person can have such a big voice? Or, how does an opera singer belt the high notes so easily? Nicholas Perna will answer both of those questions and more in his keynote performance to headline the 10th annual Randolph College Science Festival.

The Science Festival is a series of free events during March that allow the community to discover and celebrate the beauty of science and its connection to many aspects of life. The program, which has something for all ages, has grown significantly since it began in 2009, and continues to add new attractions each year.

This year’s slate of events kicks off with the Pi Run on Wednesday, March 14. The 3.14-mile fun run starts in front of Main Hall at 6 p.m., takes participants down the sidewalks of historic Rivermont Avenue, and ends back at Main Hall. Pre-registration is required at, and the first 150 to register will receive a free T-shirt.

Nicholas Perna

Nicholas Perna

The main series of events begins with Perna’s keynote performance on Thursday, March 22. Perna is an assistant professor of music at Mississippi College, where he teaches vocal pedagogy and voice repertoire classes as well as music research and writing. He has garnered international attention for his research on the acoustics of the singing voice, nasality of the singing voice, and laryngeal manipulation in vocal warm-up routine. Perna will also lead an open class Friday, March 23, at 11 a.m. in Nichols Theatre. Since space is limited, pre-registration is required for this class.

For the second year, Vector Space will bring its popular Mini Maker Faire to the Science Festival. The event will take place Sunday, March 25, from 12-4:30 p.m. As part of the slate of family-friendly Sunday Science Activities, the maker faire features hands-on activities and demonstrations, amazing exhibits, locally made products, and a group build project. Activities are designed for children as young as 4 years old, as well as adults.

Randolph will also continue its tradition of inviting a group of alumnae to share their experiences and talk about their careers in the sciences during the Women in Science Panel on Friday, March 23. This year’s panelists include nurse practitioner Melanie Fastabend ’89, physical therapist Karen Godley ’97, and Randolph’s biology lab technician Catherine Khoo ’11. The program begins at 3:30 p.m. in Nichols Theatre. Students and other guests will have the opportunity to meet each panelist prior to the event at a 2:30 p.m.  reception and open house at the Center for Student Research.

The Randolph College Science Festival evolved from the popular Science Day, a free program offered to children in grades 3-6, which began in 2005. The popularity of the one-day Science Day, which routinely fills its registration early, led to the creation of an even bigger festival that would allow Randolph to share the beauty, fun, and relevance of science to all ages. The event has now grown to encompass multiple days. Led by the Randolph College Society of Physics Students, the Science Festival features one of the largest groups of student, faculty, and staff volunteers on campus.

“Science Day—the Saturday hands-on events for 3rd-6th graders—was started by Kacey Meaker ’08 in 2005,” said Peter Sheldon, a Randolph physics professor and founder and director of the Science Festival. “I expanded this into a whole weekend of science and math-based hands-on activities starting in 2009, so 2018 is our 10th annual Science Festival. This milestone is celebrated by unprecedented community support, and we are so thankful to all of our sponsors for allowing us to do this. This year we expect an expanded Sunday Maker Faire and Science Exposition due to our partnership with Vector Space.”

Participants in Science Day activities look at items in the Randolph College Natural History Collection.Other highlights of the 2018 Science Festival include:

  • The Poetry Jam! Reading and Competition Awards will be held Friday, March 23, at 6 p.m. in Wimberly Recital Hall. Finalists in Randolph’s K-12 science-based poetry competition will share their work, and over $1,000 in prizes will be awarded to the authors of the top entries.
  • A Scientist Goes to the Movies: Geostorm will be held Friday, March 23 at 8 p.m. in Nichols Theatre. Sarah Sojka, a Randolph physics and environmental studies professor, will provide commentary on the new release of the environmental action/thriller. Free popcorn will be provided.
  • Science Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 24. This popular event features an afternoon of activities for students in grades 3-6. The Randolph College Nursery School also will host Science Day for Little Scientists for children ages 3-7. Prior registration is required for both of these events.
  • The Glow Stick Star Party begins at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, in the Winfree Observatory. Scientists of all ages will have the opportunity to look up at the stars using the telescope at the Winfree Observatory. The event will be held rain or shine, and free glow sticks and refreshments will be provided.
  • Sunday Science Exhibition for All Ages start Sunday, March 25, at noon, and drop-in activities take place in various locations across the Randolph campus. In addition to the Mini Maker Faire, robots, lasers, and local companies and organizations will be on hand with interesting scientific activities, including a lightning machine, Newtown’s Cradle, and the Non-Newtonian Fluid Pool.A Science Day attendee takes a look through a microscope
  • The Junior FIRST LEGO League Expo takes place Sunday, March 25, and begins at 12:30 p.m. in Smith Memorial Building. Registration and more information is available at
  • The Science Café will take place Sunday, March 25, in the Conway Corner convenience store in Main Hall. During three sessions at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 p.m., Randolph education students will lead hands-on activities and answer science questions from people of all ages.
  • The Science and Art Saturdays Reception will take place Sunday, March 25, at 2 p.m. in Room 415 of Martin Science Building. High school students who participated in Randolph’s free Science Saturdays program will be recognized as Science Saturday Scholars. Find more information about the program at

Visit for the full schedule of events or to register for events.

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