Captain Mark Kelly, who led NASA missions into space, will lead off the action-packed schedule of this year's Atlanta Science Festival on Tuesday, March 14. His talk is entitled "Endeavor to Succeed." (NASA photo)
By Carol Clark
The 2017 Atlanta Science Festival blasts off on Tuesday, March 14 with a talk by Captain Mark Kelly – commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission – at 7 pm in Emory’s Glenn Memorial Auditorium.
“We wanted to start off this year with someone who appeals to people of all ages and who epitomizes science in action,” says Meisa Salaita, co-executive director of the Atlanta Science Festival, which will continue through March 25 with events throughout the metro area. “Who better than an astronaut to show us how science can take us to new and exciting places?”
The title of Kelly’s talk is “Endeavour to Succeed.” Tickets for the event can be bought in advance on the Atlanta Science Festival’s web site for $12 ($8 for children 12 and under). They will also be available at the door the day of the event for $15.
Starting at 5:30 pm, during the countdown to Kelly’s talk, the public is invited to join toy rocket launching activities on the Glenn Memorial lawn, led by members of the Georgia Tech Ramblin’ Rocket Club and the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers.
Kelly, who began his NASA career in 1996, commanded the Space Shuttle Discovery, as well as the Endeavour. He left the astronaut corps in the summer of 2011 to help his wife, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, recover from gunshot wounds she received in an assassination attempt on her life. The couple’s story captivated the nation, and they went on to found Americans for Responsible Solutions to advocate for gun control.
NASA is comparing biological data from the Earth-bound Kelly with his identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, who recently spent a year in space. The unique Twins Study may offer insights into how to prepare astronauts for a long-term mission to Mars.
Kelly is also a prolific author, including numerous children’s books with space themes, and he will be available for a book signing following his talk at Emory.
The 12-day Atlanta Science Festival features talks, lab tours, film screenings, participatory activities and science demonstrations — more than 100 events at dozens of different venues, including the Emory campus.
“We’ve expanded the number of days at the festival of the year, to avoid scheduling conflicts and give people a chance to experience more of the festival,” Salaita says. (Click here for the full schedule of events.)
Physics Live (at the Emory Mathematics and Science Center) and a Chemistry Carnival (at the Atwood Chemistry Center) will be among the Emory campus highlights, featuring lab tours and science demonstrations from 3:30 to 7 pm on Friday, March 24. (Click here for a full listing of Emory-related events.)
New at the festival this year will be an appearance by New York rap artist Baba Brinkman. He will perform “Rap Guide to Climate Chaos” at 1:30 on Saturday, March 18 at the Drew Charter School.
Also new this year is “The Art and Science of Cooking with Insects,” featuring free tastings, at 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 23 at Manuels Tavern.
About 20,000 visitors are expected for the festival’s culminating event, the Exploration Expo, from 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, March 25 at Centennial Olympic Park. Around 100 interactive exhibits will delight curious minds of all ages, from Emory chemist’s Doug Mulford’s “Ping Pong Big Bang” to the immersive Google Village experience.
Leading sponsors of this year’s Atlanta Science Festival include Emory, Georgia Tech, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Delta Airlines and Google.