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Randolph’s 2020 Science Festival moving online with at-home activities, videos and more

Students blow up balloons for a propelled car at Science Festival.

A student blows up balloons for a propelled car during Randolph College’s 2019 Science Festival.

Randolph’s 2020 SciFest—including its popular Science Day activities—has moved online, with virtual activities planned throughout the spring.

New videos and activities will be posted to every week.

The site already includes demo videos—on topics ranging from weightlessness and buoyancy to the speed of sound and internal versus external forces—created by members of the College’s Society of Physics Students chapter, as well as a link to a social distancing video created by Kacey Meaker ’08, the student who originally created Science Day and inspired SciFest.

It also links to a live Chick Cam, where visitors can see hatching chicks.

Virtual events coming later this spring include Science Day for Little Scientists, designed for children ages 3 to 7, which will go online with a guide and hands-on science activities that can be done at home, and Science Day, for children in third through sixth grade, which is going partially online with activities and a curriculum guide.

The first activity video will post this Saturday, and they will continue every Saturday for the rest of the semester.

The annual Science + Art Saturdays Reception, which recognizes high schoolers who have participated in Randolph’s Science Saturdays program, also will go online this weekend when Peter Sheldon, SciFest founder and physics professor, posts a video congratulating them.

The festival’s keynote class, reception, and lecture will likely be rescheduled for SciFest 2021, alongside the Alumnae Lunch and the Women in Science Reception and Panel.

Finalists for the Poetry Jam Reading and Awards Ceremony and SciFest Science Teaching Award from Randolph (STAR) were announced last week, but the award ceremonies for both are postponed.

In the meantime, Sheldon has invited all entrants in the Poetry Jam, not just the finalists, to submit videos of themselves reading their poems. The videos will be posted online, and two students who submit them will be randomly chosen to win a $50 gift certificate to Givens Books.

Sheldon said they can save the videos to a Google Drive or other cloud storage and share the link with

Sheldon is also suggesting people start thinking ahead to 2021 by submitting math and science-based poetry for the contest and nominees for the award.

Other events, including the Pi Run, Glow Stick Star Party, Maker Faire of Lynchburg, the Genworth FIRST LEGO League Junior Expo, A Scientist Goes to the Movies presentation, and the new Physics Phest, which features a quiz bowl competition, are also being postponed until large gatherings are permitted, though there is a chance the quiz bowl could go virtual sometime in 2020.

Whenever the rescheduled events do happen, Sheldon is confident they’ll still capture the spirit of the event.

“The beauty of SciFest,” he said, “is bringing together so many people with a single great interest.”

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