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Attention young scientists, Broward County Library's Science Fair Fest comes back this week

The children's section of the Sunrise Dan Pearl Branch Library includes a papier-mâché dragon and books on science fair project ideas available for checkout.
Caitie Switalski Muñoz
The children's section of the Sunrise Dan Pearl Branch Library includes a papier-mâché dragon and books on science fair project ideas available for checkout.

The Broward County Library system is bringing back the fest for the science buffs — whether that's a student or their guardian. Science Fair Fest 2021 takes place virtually Saturday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Bill Nye The Science Guy sparked inspiration for a lot of science fair projects between 1993 and 1998.

And he still inspires — but parents, guardians and students can also get a lot of resources and support for good projects at your local public library. For free.

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Valerie Marshall, community library manager of the Broward Library system's Sunrise Dan Pearl Branch, started Science Fair Fest five years ago with a grant called NASA @ My Library, and she's kept it going ever since.

"One of the things that we talk about in some programs, even beyond this festival, is that you don't have to be an expert to be a scientist. You're already a scientist," she said. "That's for everybody, and we just try to make people comfortable knowing that we have the resources to help them along."

Last year with COVID-19, the festival went from in-person to being an online event. This year, after the spike in cases from the delta variant, the festival is online again and is broken down into four sessions.

Students from Barry University are presenting the first session at the Webex festival.

"We actually have some students in the chemistry department who are going to be doing live presentations of chemistry experiments," Marshall said. "Last year they did something cool where they actually sucked an egg into a jar using just air pressure, and the audience loved it. And you also get to ask questions of students who are actively studying science. And so if it's of interest to you, it can actually spark, you know, the best idea you've ever had for your science fair project."

Other sessions during the Oct. 9 event will look at alternative energy experiments, and parents and guardians can ask Broward County teachers questions about how to help their child with science fair projects and expectations. You can register here.

Marshall said she believes resources from your local public library can help ease some of the anxiety around science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects — or STEM education.

"I honestly just love helping people and showing them that they're capable of doing this. I've encountered a lot of people who have fear around STEM because they feel like it's school and they're going to get graded," she said. "But a lot of doing STEM is experimenting — and you're honestly not going to get the right answer the first time. And that's OK. And I like letting people know that that's OK, and that's usually how we get to the best breakthroughs."

Bill Nye The Science Guy on Energy

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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