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Grace Stanke, nuclear engineer and Miss America 2023, to give SciFest keynote

Grace Stanke, a nuclear engineer and Miss America 2023, will give the keynote address during Randolph College’s 2024 Science Festival.

The festival runs from March 20-24, with Stanke’s keynote, “Clean Energy, Cleaner Future,” scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, in Smith Hall Theatre.

Stanke will discuss how cleaner energy options play a role in protecting our environment and her journey talking about these topics as a scientist, nuclear engineer, and Miss America titleholder.

The College will host a reception for Stanke at 6:45 p.m., with meet-and-greet opportunities.

Science Fest activities continue on Friday, March 22, with the Women in Science Panel Reception, the Center for Student Research & Internship Showcase, the Poetry Jam Reading and Awards Ceremony, and the popular A Scientist Goes to the Movies, featuring a faculty member offering commentary on the science featured in a film.

This year, that film is Oscar-nominated Oppenheimer, with observations from physics and engineering professor Peter Sheldon, who will be joined by Stanke.

Science Day will be held on Saturday, March 23, with registration options still available for two different age groups: 3rd-6th graders and children ages 3-7.

On Sunday, March 24, Randolph will host the first annual Region 2000 KidWind Challenge. Middle school teams and their coaches will build wind turbines—and put them to the test—while also exploring renewable energy concepts. The winning team will go on to compete in a statewide challenge.

Other highlights of the 2024 festival include:

  • An AI Panel, featuring experts from business and education discussing the impact of artificial intelligence in their fields, at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in Wimberly Recital Hall. Katrin Schenk, professor of physics and engineering, will moderate.
  • The presentation of the 2024 SciFest Science Teacher Award at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21, prior to Stanke’s talk.
  • Science Day for 3rd-6th Graders and Science Day for Little Scientists on Saturday, March 23.
  • A Glow Stick Star Party at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23.
  • The Maker Faire of Lynchburg from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 24.
  • Smash @ SciFest, a Super Smash Bros. esports competition, at 11 a.m. Sunday, March 24.
  • The SciFest FIRST LEGO League Explore Build Challenge Expo from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 24, featuring two competitions: the traditional Lego League Explore projects and a smaller building challenge using kits provided by Randolph.

Visit for the full schedule and more information.

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