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Penn Medicine Shares “Relatable Research” at the 8th Philadelphia Science Festival

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Photos: Peggy Peterson

For the eighth year, Penn Medicine is a partner in the 2018 Philadelphia Science Festival, an innovative, nine-day celebration that engages the community with the ways that science and technology touch our everyday lives.

A citywide collaboration that runs April 21 to 28, the Festival unites 200 of the region’s institutions, museums, and cultural centers. Created, organized, and led by The Franklin Institute, the events brings science to restaurants, parks, breweries, libraries, museums, and other neighborhood venues culminating in the free Science Carnival on the Parkway on April 28.

Jane Horwitz, director of Penn’s Science Outreach Initiative (SOI) will reprise her role coordinating all of Penn’s activities during the Festival. As SOI director, Horwitz helps School of Arts & Sciences researchers craft their “Broader Impacts” statements for National Science Foundation grants and project reports, detailing how the proposed research could benefit society at large. This time of year, though, her efforts are spent coordinating over 50 individual activities by Penn professors, physicians, students, postdocs, and staff. Members of the Penn Medicine community are lending their expertise to more than 20 of these ventures.

For Horwitz, one of the best outcomes in her new Penn-PSF role is seeing individuals involved in the nexus of  science education and communication come together to achieve the common goal of making STEM topics more relatable for everyone: “We learn from each other how to be better at explaining science.”

Sharing science in an accessible way is also what it comes down to for familiar faces at the Festival, like Robin Armstrong, lab manager for the department of Neurosurgery and administrative coordinator for the Center for Brain Injury and Repair, who has been organizing hands-on activities about brain injury and safety since the first Festival seven years ago. “Every year, we have fun adapting our ‘Mind Your Brain’ exhibit to new venues,” Armstrong said. “This year we are looking forward to taking part in Brain Food: Science at the Reading Terminal Market.”

And, new participants for 2018, Tom McKeon and Marilyn Howarth from the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Community Outreach and Engagement Core will be at Science in the Park at Clark Park to show how soil and paint is tested for lead concentration. “We will have a map of the city on display organized by zipcodes showing the lead levels in soil that we have found,” McKeon said. “We will give participants the opportunity to sign up to bring their soil to us in the future when we may be in their neighborhood for testing.” 


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Here’s a complete list of Penn Medicine’s involvement:

Science in the Park: Clark Park   
Saturday, April 21, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Clark Park
4301 Chester Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104
This is the seventh time that Penn Medicine has participated in this hyper-local event. Meet area scientists and students while exploring one of the most beautiful parks in the city. The Center for Brain Injury and Repair and students from the Biomedical Graduate Studies programs will be there to share hands-on activities.


Be a Scientist Sunday: Be an 18th and 19th Century Doctor!
Sunday, April 22, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Pennsylvania Hospital
800 Spruce St. – Enter at the Archway on 8
th Street
Travel back in time at Pennsylvania Hospital’s historic Pine Building and explore just how much has changed (or stayed the same) throughout American medical history. Visit the original surgical amphitheater, where surgeries took place before the development of anesthetics and sanitation standards and take a tour of the Physic Garden to learn about herbal medicine.


Fishtown Science Crawl
Sunday, April 22, 2:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m.
Start at Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue
Reservation required
Free, $5.00 Happy Hour Wrist Band 
Raise a pint in the name of science during the Fishtown Science Crawl! Enjoy great drink specials at awesome Fishtown venues and engage in hands-on science activities with the 
Center for Brain Injury and Repair and the Center for Resuscitation Science – The Mobile CPR Project


Community Night
Tuesday, April 24, 5:00 pm to 8:00pm

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute welcomes guests for a free evening of educational experiences that include the museum’s permanent exhibits, special programs and shows, and hands-on activities from Philadelphia Science Festival partner organizations. The Center for Resuscitation Science – The Mobile CPR Project will teach adult, hands-only CPR and show how VR can be used for emergency preparedness training.


Neighborhood Science After School
Wednesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 26, 3:00 p.m.
Various locations
Join our brain scientists from the
Center for Brain Injury and Repair at neighborhood libraries after school for a celebration of science exploration. Scientists, engineers, and other experts share their knowledge to provide programs filled with exciting activities, animal encounters, family-friendly experiments, and hands-on demonstrations.


Science in the National Park
Thursday, April 26,  10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
1 North Independence Mall West
Connect history and science at the Independence National Historical Park for a day of activities geared to an elementary school audience. The 
Center for Brain Injury and Repair
will share “Why Should You Mind Your Brain?”


Brain Food: Science at the Reading Terminal Market
Thursday, April 26, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Center for Brain Injury and Repair neuroscientists will be on hand to show you real brain tissue under a microscope. While eating your cheese steak they will teach you about concussions and how you can protect yourself from brain injury.


Science Carnival on the Parkway 
Saturday, April 28, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
The Carnival features more than 175 exhibitors offering family-friendly experiments, interactive activities, games, and a packed line-up of live entertainment, with many Penn Medicine staff participating. 



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