Wonderfest Beacon of Science

Dear friend of Wonderfest,

The previous issue of this newsletter described how Wonderfest is “merging” with the Bay Area Science Festival (BASF).  The unfortunate title of that message, “Wonderfest becomes BASF,” disappointed a few thoughtful folks who are fond of Wonderfest, and they made their disappointment clear.

We all want BASF to be a glorious success.  And we can be proud that key elements of Wonderfest promise to be a big part of that success.  However, Wonderfest is not “becoming” BASF. In fact, Wonderfest is beginning a year-long, multi-faceted period of profound growth and experimentation:

(1) After fourteen years as “The Bay Area Festival of Science,” Wonderfest’s subtitle is becoming “The Bay Area Beacon of Science” — reflecting that growth and experimentation.



(2) Wonderfest is joining forces with San Francisco’s original “science cafe,” Ask a Scientist, to produce regular science evenings at accessible venues throughout the Bay Area.  Science dialogues and lectures will flourish year-round, not just during one weekend in November.  Ask a Scientist creator Juliana Gallin is convinced—as am I—that together we can engage more people with science than either of our two independent institutions did in years past.  Our first joint-venture event is scheduled for August.  Stay tuned for news of its subject and speaker(s).



(3) Wonderfest is producing an extended series of online science videos.  These “Wonderings” will complement more formal online fare like that of Khan Academy.  Wonderings videos will be lively and witty, diverse and fun.  Most of all, they will be compelling and accurate and wonder-inspired.  A hint of the hundreds(!) of Wonderings to come can be seen in this prototype entitled She Has a Need for Speed.  YouTube phenom Jack Conte is helping Wonderfest to produce the Wonderings AND to post them on YouTube in ways that will earn large viewerships and, consequently, engage a lot of people with science.


Do YOU have a question that can inspire an exciting episode of Wonderings?  If so, please send it here.  Perhaps even send it in simple YouTube video format (by attaching the URL).  This is what the celebrity(!) questioner did in She Has a Need for Speed.  Good questions—in video format or not—will be featured in upcoming episodes.

I hope you are (nearly!) as excited by the evolving Wonderfest as I am.

Wondrous regards,

Tucker Hiatt, Wonderfest Director

P.S.  Early evidence of the collaboration between Wonderfest and Ask a Scientist can be seen in person on Wednesday, June 8, at 7:00pm.  A certain Wonderfest director will be addressing “How to Blend Physics Into Your Worldview” at San Francisco’s Bazaar Cafe as a part of Ask a Scientist’s How-To Night.  If you have time, please stop by!