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Science, book fairs will make for exciting weekend

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

By Kathleen Bethel


Science and festivals and books — oh my! March seems to be the month of several large events in Tucson.

And we are fortunate to be hosting two science and reading events that have more of a connection than meets the eye.

So take that bored toddler's hand, pull your teenager who's glued to his phone screen off the couch, and tell your aunt it's not wine-thirty yet. There are just too many good things to do!

On March 13, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., travel down to the Tucson Convention Center for Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation's Future Innovators Night. It's free!

Don't think you like science?

Think again. Science surrounds us — it's everywhere we look and in everything we do — and the SARSEF will show you just how much you not only love science but depend on it in your daily life.

Joined by 52 local organizations and STEM-related corporations such as TEP, IBM and the University of Arizona, SARSEF hosts one of the most exciting nights of the year.

Like history? Travel through time as you examine samples from the University of Arizona tree- ring lab. Love to garden? Weed your way to the Tucson cactus and succulent booth. Like staring at the sky at night? The Planetary Science Institute will take your stargazing to a whole new level.

Love race cars? SARSEF is giving away Matchbox cars thanks to a grant to increase girls' participation in nonstereotypical careers such as engineering from Mercedes-Benz and Matchbox. You can help your girls take their first steps in establishing their STEM identity here — there will be role models galore from several women in science organizations.

While you're there, take a moment to view 2,216 research projects that were completed by the top 6,000 preschool to high school students in Arizona.

Try not to giggle when you hear that kindergartners are tackling climate change — because you'll see for yourself how seriously they took it with projects that tested solar lighting, acid oceans and plant protection. You might see the research of that doctor who will be seeing you in 10 years in the high school section. Isabella can help you with that insomnia you are suffering from. And Saffeyya-Grace is on her third year of testing Native American medicinal plants on strep viruses.

While you're wandering around in awe, pause for a moment to observe which areas you and your family get excited about.

Because you are going to need information for the next day.

The very next morning, as you are remembering the fun you had at SARSEF, take a tripto the University of Arizona Mall for the Festival of Books on March 14 and 15.

For most people, the myriad of authors and book choices will seem a bit overwhelming. But not for you! You already have a game plan in mind.

Thinking back on the night before, you recall which activities got you the most excited.

Taking the topic of your favorite activity, you go straight to booths and books that will let you find out more and delve deeper.

Why did that one car go faster than the other? How will native species be affected by the border wall? What're the newest advances in medical treatment for depression?

Together, SARSEF's 65th annual Science Fair and the Tucson Festival of Books make for some great adventures in science and reading. Stay curious on your own or enjoy some family bonding time. Come enjoy what both have to offer.

Kathleen Bethel is a consultant for SARSEF, an organization that is changing the world by creating the next generation of problem solvers though science.

Kathleen Bethel

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