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Seattle Science Festival: Robots, Rockets, Maker Faire, Cool Jobs, Watershed Tours, More

Published on: December 30, 2013

ssf-prism1How can the average busy family begin to take advantage of the literally hundreds of awesome-sounding events, hands-on activities and tours at the Seattle Science Festival which kicks off today?

Given that we can't (yet) clone ourselves, I took another route. With some suggestions from festival organizer Pacific Science Center, I've compiled a few highlights to help families choose.

But really, I encourage you to look through the full festival calendar and pick some new adventures for your family, science lovers or no. Many are free!

Great events for all ages

psc_body_mainEXPO Day, June 8, Seattle Center, 10 a.m.6 p.m.

EXPO Day is free, fantastic and family-friendly, with more than 150 exhibitors, activities and live stage shows designed to appeal to all ages, including:

- A laser roadshow, “An Amazing Glimpse Into Lasers, Optics and Photonics!"

- Two shows by world-famous breakdance troupe the Massive Monkees

- Performance by rockin' Seattle kids' band The Not-Its!

- Drive real robots with Washington FIRST Robotics

- Play test video games at the DigiPen Institute of Technology booth

- A UW I-LABS booth with four interactive exhibits exploring how babies and toddlers learn, including videos, sensory play with oobleck, clay and other materials, and coloring pages

- Design and build a small race car powered by light with the University of Washington Department of Chemistry

- Other exhibits and activities include a submarine, near space satellites, underwater robots, a full Boeing 787 flight simulator, real-time 3D modeling with Microsoft Kinect and a bilingual inflatable colon (!).

maker-faireMini-Maker Faire, The Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Center, June 89, 10 a.m.6 p.m.

Sponsored by MAKE magazine, Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, with exhibitors ranging from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers showing off projects and engaging attendees in hands-on activities. There will be at least several robot projects. $8–$15; kids 15 and under free. (Note: Some interactive exhibits may contain small parts and pieces and tools like hot soldering irons, so if you bring young kids, keep an eye on 'em.)

Puget Sound and Beyond Star Party, various locations, June 8

Join local astronomers at a bunch of locations (University of Washington, Green Lake and Paramount Park, to name a few) for a closer look at the stars and fun astronomy activities. Fees vary, many free.

World Ocean Day Films, June 8, Pacific Science Center

Showing of special films such as The Last Reef 3D at 2:15 p.m., Under the Sea 3D at 3:30 p.m. and Into the Deep 3D at 4:45 pm Cost: $6–$9; free for children under 3.

ssf-kidsGreat picks for younger and grade-school kids

Seattle Children's Museum programs, all week

All week long, the Children's Museum is hosting super science-y activities, from Rocket Day (Monday, June 10) to Let's Go Fly a Kite Day (Thursday, June 13) to one that would make my son's head pop with excitement, The Science of Ice Cream (Saturday, June 15). Included with admission.

Submerged in Science, Golden Gardens, Seattle, June 7, 10 a.m.1:30 p.m

Ever wonder what happens to the water that goes down your drain? Join Salish Sea Expeditions to explore the wonders of watersheds and their connection to the Puget Sound. Free but register by email

Math and Science Mashup, Mt. Baker Community Center, June 13, 5:30 p.m.

Explore how you use math and science every day with Pacific Science Center and Zeno. Make a kazoo as you explore the mathematics of music and the science of sound. Discover how hula hoops and paper airplanes work. Dozens of fun, hands-on activities. No advance registration required. Free.

Great picks for older kids and teens

Tap Water Tours, Cedar River Watershed Center, June 9, 9:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.

An amazing tour that takes you behind the scenes to see the source of Seattle's great tap water, the Cedar River Watershed. Tour by bus and foot, while learning about the history and science of this beautiful protected area. Grade 6 and older. Free, but reservation is required.

Tiger Mountain Walk, June 9, 9:30 a.m.

A 1.5 mile guided walk in the forest at Tiger Mountain exploring what animals live in the woods, through finding insects, tracks, scat, game trails and more. Grade school age and older. Register by email; $10/person or $20/family.

The Cool Jobs Series, Seattle Public Library, June 9, 11, 12 and 13

A series of evening programs at the Seattle Public Library to bring kids (and anyone, really) face to face with amazing scientists with some of the coolest jobs around, from medical researchers looking at ways to use suspended animation to help patients in trauma situations to people involved in the cutting edge of clean and green technologies.

Closing Night, Seattle Repertory Theatre, June 15, 7:30 p.m.

This one is really for teens. The theme "Our 11th Hour: Straight Talk on Climate Change From People Who Know” is urgent, and the program includes a presentation of the half-hour, earth-oriented opera Heron and the Salmon Girl, plus talks by award-winning scientists Kevin Trenberth and Richard Alley and New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin. $15$30.

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