Top NavTop NavTop Nav

Bugs, slugs and more at Science Festival

v-fossil casting scoutsl.jpg

Girl Scouts cast fossils at CSUEB's Science Festival 2007.

  • March 3, 2009

See snakes and sea slugs, cast fossils and watch a dean perform chemistry magic at Science Festival 2009. The biennial science exploration event will be held April 25 at the California State University, East Bay, Hayward campus. The festival, offering free admission and parking, is open to the public and science lovers of all ages.

Hosted by Cal State East Bay's College of Science, the festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Science buildings and the Valley Business and Technology Center on campus.

The 2007 Science Festival drew an estimated 5,000 attendees, and a similar size or larger crowd is expected to attend the 2009 event, said Charlene Lebastchi, festival coordinator and College of Science staff member. While people of all ages, families, and local CSUEB alums take part in the festival, the event particularly affects young students, she said.

"It's an opportunity to get little kids interested in science," said Lebastchi. "They get to see so many different things."

With approximately 50 activities scheduled for the day, students are encouraged not only to watch but participate. "Most of the activities are hands on," said Lebastchi.

Science Festival 2009 will feature many popular activities offered at previous festivals, including chemistry magic shows, scheduled at 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m.; a criminologist's DNA investigation in a simulated crime scene; and science demonstrations by "The AstroWizard."

New exhibits planned for the 2009 event include: "Visualization," a presentation about graphics using computers; testing how zebra fish learn and store memories; and the return of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which will combine its "Fun with Science Program" and "Science on Saturday (SOS)" lecture series. The SOS series, featuring a lab research scientist speaking on scientific issues, will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. in the VBT. It is recommended for students in middle and high school, although all ages are welcome to attend.

For the first time, the California Academy of Sciences will participate at Science Festival. Erica Wildy, associate professor of biology, will represent the Academy at the festival. Wildy, who took a professional leave of absence from the University in 2008-2009 to work for the Academy, serves as the Senior Science Educator. Her exhibit will introduce the University community to the Academy through informational brochures about what the institution offers, including memberships, programs and the docent program.

The exhibit will also feature herpetological specimens, also known as reptiles and amphibians, which will highlight the research that takes place at the Academy. Wildy said she is anxious to introduce the Academy to CSUEB, and vice versa. "I'm really excited to bring these two worlds together," Wildy said.

Other participants will include the Chabot Space and Science Center, Sulphur Creek Nature Center and Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District.

All departments housed in the College of Science will be represented at the festival by faculty, staff and students. Demonstrations will include: "Ellen's Famous Magic Trick," presented by the math department assistant professors Ellen Veomett and Julia Olkin; a psychological playground, which uses perception and illusions to teach psychological principals; games of chance and a cola taste test from the statistics and biostatistics department; fun with magnets and gravity from the physics department; fossil casting and geophysical exploration from earth and environmental science; health screenings from nursing; and Brain Fingers, a program that uses brain waves and facial muscles to manipulate computers, from the engineering department.

Lebastchi said that touching the lives of families and children is what she loves about the festival. At the 2007 event, a mother of four young children stopped Lebastchi and thanked her for making a free day of science available. The mother, who was one of the last to leave the festival, said in parting: "Oh, thank you. This was the greatest experience."

"It's important for our community, our faculty, and students to have this tradition carry on," Lebastchi said. "I see it as a service...People have come to expect it."

For more information about Science Festival 2009, contact the College of Science at (510) 885-3441 or visit

© California State University, East Bay. All Rights Reserved.