Bay Area Science Festival Celebrates the Scientist in Us All

Graduate Division

Have you ever wondered how plants are turned into biofuels, or how astronomers search for extraterrestrial life? If you’re anything like me, your inner 10-year old is dancing in circles at the very hint of such exploration. And starting this Thursday, the Bay Area Science Festival can fulfill the inner child exuberance of every scientist.

This Thursday kicks off the start of the 6th annual Bay Area Science Festival, produced by UCSF’s Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP). Over the course of 10 days, from October 27 to November 5, 50 volunteer-driven events will be held across all sides of San Francisco Bay in science, engineering, and technology.

Intended to provide all Bay Area residents access to the high-quality science in our community, most events are free. This festival is a powerful platform to raise awareness about current technical innovations and to engage our youth in curiosity and critical thinking.

The unique strength of the Bay Area Science Festival is the reliance on collaboration amongst scientific thinkers from all levels — academic to corporation, leading scientists to graduate students — effectively conveying scientific principles to the broader community.

This festival embodies collaboration, equal access education, and the creativity that underlies the best scientific research.

A Wide Array of Events

Explorer Days are two-hour interactive lessons held by different institutions that introduce novel scientific efforts in the Bay Area. The Joint BioEnergy Institute lead an exploration of biofuels on Thursday October 27, providing a tour of their lab facilities while explaining their process of creating environmentally friendly energy alternatives .

Another example of interactive lessons is provided by the Downtown Berkeley Market. Berkeley students lead investigations on the biology, chemistry and physics of food, Saturday October 29 and Tuesday November 1.

The Festival also offers a variety of events presenting scientific questions in unique ways. Two such events delve into the search for intelligent life in the universe through a café styled discussion on October 29 and comedy on October 30.

I myself am quite curious to hear Dr. Seth Shostak work his “probing questions” on aliens into comical, yet informative entertainment. How many aliens does it take to screw in a light bulb? Ask Seth.

Discovery Days is the main attraction of the BASF, during which over 150 exhibitors offer family-oriented experiments, games, performances, and more.

Expect activity zones that include everything from DNA extraction to making liquid nitrogen ice cream. One Discovery Day event will even include a career-mapping workshop for teenagers interested in STEM fields.

Discovery Days happen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays in three separate locations, AT&T Park on November 5, North Bay on October 29, and Contra Costa on October 29.


Even if you are not a cheering 10 year-old eager to meet ET, or the exhausted parent of one, you can participate through a variety of volunteer positions ranging from low to high commitment. Volunteers are needed to publicize the events, recruit Discovery Day exhibitors, event day coordination, and even for leading events or Discovery Day booths. Sign up to volunteer through the website. 

The UCSF SEP provides training for each volunteer position tailored to your schedule; the only requirement is the desire to contribute. For more information, visit