I’m Rick Van Kooten, executive dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, and I am thrilled to invite you to this year’s event, taking place from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday, April 6th. Only two days later, as you know, the IU campus and our region will be in the zone of totality for a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse.

So this year promises to be our most spectacular experience yet.
Normally held in the fall, we’ve moved Science Fest to early spring to include many activities (but not all) focused on the solar eclipse. One goal is to help visitors plan for and safely experience this unusual event. Because solar viewers are essential for protecting your eyes during an eclipse, we will be giving them out to attendees, along with other tips and useful suggestions.

Science Fest has evolved over the years into a much-anticipated multidisciplinary learning festival. It attracts thousands of children, educators, caregivers and parents to the university. Free to the public, with free parking in campus parking garages, it plants the seeds of scientific discovery in a wide range of fields: from Animal Behavior to Public Health, Psychology and Brain Science, Mathematics, Anthropology, Botany, Biology, Game Theory, Chemistry, Optometry, the History of Science – and beyond. It showcases these and other fantastic departments and resources in the College of our Research1 university.

This year, departments and groups from forty different areas across the  College campus have planned hands-on activities for you to enjoy. They convey the drama of scientific discovery as it connects with many other facets of life. You’ll meet faculty who have dedicated their careers to studying these subjects in both breadth and depth.

In addition to learning about astronomy and the human history of solar eclipses, you’ll find activities involving the tools we use to study rocks, minerals, and fossils; tree rings; archaeology; geology; puzzles; American Sign Language; and much more. Staff from Emergency Medical Services will explain how they prepare an ambulance for various public health scenarios when their help is needed.

Take some time to explore your many options here at the Science Fest website. You can even create a custom schedule that will help you catch favorite topics during the day. Click on Ages to filter for those activities that work for you and select All or zero in on an age group from Pre-K through High School and beyond.

But Science Fest is more than a series of activities—it’s an invitation to nurture curiosity while igniting a lifelong love for learning. Our event sparks enthusiasm and lays the foundation for joyful discovery. It also gives us a chance to witness the wonder of young minds as they explore.

This year you can join us for History Slams, where we explore the rich tapestry of scientific history. Delve into the fascinating world of solar eclipses through time and space, from ancient civilizations to the current  moment.

Cap off your day with Ellipses, a musical performance and immersive journey through space. Presented by students from Jacobs School of Music and the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, this experience promises to mysteriously transport you. Performances run hourly at 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm, with demonstrations in between.

Science Fest 2024: Eclipse Edition sets the stage for the remarkable time two days later when the shadow of the moon will temporarily block the sun. Join us as we celebrate the wonders of this event and our world of extraordinary scientific achievements.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Science Fest: Eclipse Edition!

Rick Van Kooten
Executive Dean, College of Arts and Sciences \ Professor of Physics
Indiana University