Summit Schedule

The 2018 Science Events Summit meets in
St. Petersburg, Florida.

Nerd Nite Bosses: Sunday, June 3

Daytime meeting: University Student Center, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Nerd Nite Pool Party: Sunday, June 3

Downtown St. Petersburg

6:00 – 8:00pm

Shuffleboard Club Bridge Room

Hear from three great nerds and soak in the shuffleboard vibe. This event is open to the public. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages provided by the Summit. The Shuffleboard Club is BYOB. Find out more on Facebook.

559 Mirror Lake Dr. N, St. Petersburg, FL


8:00 – 10:00pm

Hollander Hotel pool deck

Take a five-minute walk from the Shuffleboard Club to the Hollander and mingle amongst fellow nerds at pool-side cabanas. Cash bar, kitchen open until 10:00pm.
421 4th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL

Summit Conference: Monday June 4th

University Student Center, University of South Florida – St. Petersburg

200 6th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL

8:00am Doors open, breakfast served


9:00 – 10:15

The Great Summit Debate

Ballrooms 1 and 2

Get ready for a larger-than-life throw-down that will determine once-and-for-all the answer to the ultimate question: Should every scientist be expected to be involved with public outreach? At stake: pride, bragging rights, and the Great Summit Debate Championship Belt. Only one side can win. And you, the audience, will be judge, jury and executioner. Are you ready?!

Command Crew: Chris “NaviGATOR” Brewer, University of Florida; Julie “The Captain” Fooshee, Science Festival Alliance.

The Bash Brothers: Ben “B. Jammin” Corb, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Geoff “El Jefe” Hunt, LabX.

Referee: Chequita “Bossy Banana” Brooks, Nerd Nite Greenville.


10:30 – 11:45

Science Events Expo

Ballrooms 1 and 2

Meet the whole conference as we all showcase our events and programs. Exhibitors switch a little after 11:00 to give everyone a chance to participate. Check program insert to make the most of this fast-paced session.


11:45 – 12:45 Lunch


1:00 – 2:00


New Approaches to Communication Training

Ballroom 2

There’s science communication training in the form of half-day seminars or online courses that arm scientists with helpful advice. Then there’s next-level training, like the IMPACTS program, which places applicants in a variety of scenarios to gain and reflect on real-world experience. Then there’s training that flips everything on its head, like the AccessLab, which helps scientists forget what they know and focus on what they can do. Talk over the implications of different science communication training programs and platforms, and consider what new approaches might bring about.

Session Leaders: Ivvet Modinou, British Science Association; Tamara Poles, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.


Event Critique: Nerd Nite

Ballroom 3

Not only were Nerd Nite bosses enthusiastic about a first performance in St. Pete, but they are courageous enough to expose themselves to an event critique on the day after. Whether you made it to the show or not, enjoy seeing someone else in the hot seat while secretly wondering what your peers might say about your own events.

Session Leaders: Laura Chaibongsai, Nerd Nite Miami; Eve Klein, Portal to the Public; Melissa Blundell Osorio, Nerd Nite Miami; Rachel Pendergrass, ScienceAF; Ricardo Williams, Nerd Nite Orlando


The Public Face of Science

Coral Room

In 2016, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences set out to explore various aspects of the complex relationship between scientists and the public. The first report from this initiative, “Perceptions of Science in America,” examines the current state of trust in science among Americans. Take an interactive tour of the report’s findings: does the national data match what you know about your audiences? Do you see new opportunities for engagement? Then discuss what these data mean for the motivations and outcomes of science events, and how events fit within the broader science engagement landscape.

Session Leader: Erica Kimmerling, American Academy of Arts and Sciences


2:10 – 2:40

Ballrooms 1 and 2

Science, Justice, and Territory: Science Accessibility on the Outskirts

Rodolfo Hernandez, Bogota Science Festival

The Underground Science Festival: Using Comedy to Confront Sexism and Racism in Science

Kate Downey, Caveat NYC

3:00 – 4:00


Accessibility and Inclusion at Science Events

Ballroom 2

What works and what doesn’t for special needs communities at science events? Discuss the differences between events designed for individuals with special needs versus adapting existing events to be more inclusive. Explore the benefits of considering these audience members when organizing events, and how this can lead to both deeper collaborations and a better experience for everyone.

Session leaders: Angela Colbert, Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science; Phyllis Newbill, Virginia Tech Science Festival

All Are Invited, But Who Actually Shows Up?

Ballroom 3

The public events community has been abuzz in response to a study about preaching to the scientifically converted. This panel will discuss the article, provide data to begin documenting festival attendance in the U.S., and share ideas from both sides of the pond on what it means to reach new audiences.

Session leaders: Katherine Nielsen, Bay Area Science Festival; Karen Peterman, Peterman Consulting, Inc; Ivvet Modinou, British Science Association; Monae Verbeke, Institute for Learning Innovation.


Hitting the Road Together

Coral Room

The topic of placing productions on science festival tour is raised every year as an idea that has untapped potential. There are many independent productions—notably stage shows and expo booths—that have a presence at multiple science festivals. Still, with ever-larger networks of veteran festivals in the US and UK, it seems that more purpose-built, multi-site productions would be emerging. There may not be definitive solutions to this puzzle, but join this workshop session to help us consider ways to further unlock this promising marketplace.

Session Leaders: Dane Comerford, IF Oxford; Kate Dickerson, Maine Science Festival.


4:30 – 6:00


Special Screening: The Most Unknown

Room 101, Lynn Pippenger Hall (LPH), 140 7th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL

The Most Unknown is a documentary film that sends nine researchers to extraordinary parts of the world to exchange points of view and wrestle with some of humanity’s biggest questions. How did life begin? What is time? What is consciousness? How much do we really know? Directed by Peabody Award-winning documentarian Ian Cheney and advised by world-renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog, The Most Unknown is a deeply human trip to the foundations of discovery. Hailed by The New York Times as “a celebration of science,” the experience is described by Film Forum as “a rich assortment of wonders, with sweeping vistas of strange beauty that would make David Attenborough weep.” Snag your seat for this special advanced screening prior to its global release on Netflix later this year. Pitches also welcome for incorporating the film into live events this fall and beyond.

Session Leader: Greg Boustead, Science Sandbox

Summit Dinner: Monday June 4th

6:00 - 10:00pm: Multi-course buffet, cash bar, no speeches.

Locale Market: 179 2nd Ave North, St. Petersburg, FL

Conference nametag provides admission to restaurant

Summit Conference: Tuesday June 5th

University Student Center, University of South Florida – St. Petersburg

200 6th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL

8:30am Doors open, breakfast served


9:30 – 10:30

Learning By Analogy: the Perspective of a Public Events Executive

Ballrooms 1 and 2

In order to work at all, science events must first work as events. So what might we learn from someone who has created stellar public events for decades? If public event production is a craft, what are the best ways to become a better practitioner? How far can an event organizer go in scripting the audience experience? And what’s so special about in-person events anyway?

Panelists: Keith Davenport, Public Events Executive; Ivvet Modinou, British Science Association; Liz Neeley, The Story Collider; Ricardo Williams, Nerd Nite Orlando.


10:45 – 11:45


Pub Science Buffet

Ballroom 2

Science programs in bars and pubs have proliferated to the point that there are now more events in a year than anyone can keep track of. Remarkably, there are still new formats emerging for bringing science to the local watering hole. Hear about a few new twists, and then cook up some of your own in this workshop session.

Session Leaders: Parmvir Bahia, taste of science; Christopher Balakrishnan, Nerd Nite; Andrea Decker, Two Scientists Walk Into A Pub.


Outcomes From Expected and Unexpected Encounters

Ballroom 3

This panel will consider evaluation results from three different approaches for engaging the public with science and scientists, including initiatives that connect with people when they may not be expecting a science experience. Each panelist will reflect on how their outcomes might inform the encounters we create through public science events.

Session leaders: Todd Boyette, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Brianna Keys, OSU Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning; Katie Stofer, University of Florida.


Managing and Presenting Events Online

Coral Room

It’s tough to keep all your events organized, especially when communicating with many collaborators and promoting to many different audiences. Luckily, there is software for that. Take a tour of three platforms with someone who has tried them all, and talk through the fit that’s just right for you.

Session leader: Meisa Salaita, Atlanta Science Festival


11:45 – 12:45 Lunch

1:00 – 2:00


Going Where the People Are

Ballroom 2

Integrating science experiences into existing non-science gatherings can lead to fundamentally different kinds of interactions with audiences. We’ll consider some of the motivations for taking this kind of work on, and then break up to consider different approaches to going where the people are, from quick pop-ups, to parades, to exhibit booths, to integrated spectaculars.

Session Leaders: Laura Diederick, Science On Parade; Richard Gelderman, SKYSci; Michelle Phillips, Inverness Research; Katie Stofer, University of Florida; Gerri Trooskin, Philadelphia Science Festival; Ben Wiehe, Science Festival Alliance


Learning from Two Global Initiatives

Ballroom 3

The World Biotech Tour is mobilizing local science festivals and youth programs in different cities across the world. The International Science Center Science Museum Day is a campaign to generate simultaneous celebrations around the globe. Taken together, these represent two very different approaches to distributed science events. When is one more appropriate than the other?

Session Leaders: Carlin Hsueh, Association of Science-Technology Centers


School Day!

Coral Room

As a general rule, science events take place outside of school. But that doesn’t mean that some of our most creative events can’t be engineered to suit school groups. In St. Pete, an involved School Day preview of the science festival’s main event has proven to be an important part of reaching communities that might not otherwise show up. Take a peek at the intricate logistics of running this event, and step back to discuss the benefits and challenges of taking something like this on.

Session Leaders: Kara Doran, Allison Garrett, and David Rosengrant, St. Petersburg Science Festival


SciStarter Focus Group

Ocean Room

2:15 – 3:15


Watching for Longer Waves

Ballroom 2

Live events are quick to adapt and change with the times, so what might we learn about the times from reflecting on recent science events (and the discourse surrounding them)? And what emerging trends should science event organizers be keeping an eye out for? Lend your voice to the discussion after hearing some thoughts from colleagues embedded in other sectors of public science engagement.

Session Leaders: Melissa Ballard, Center for Advancement of Informal STEM Education; Stacey Baker, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Rachel Bouton, Science Friday; John Durant, MIT Museum.


When Is Enough Enough? When Is It Not?

Ballroom 3

When a big event is approaching it’s natural for the organizer to feel overwhelmed and overcommitted. It’s all part of the fun, right? But when everyone else is feeling the heat too, and the only answer why is “that’s how it’s always been,” it’s time to take a hard look at cutting back. Hear from a festival that recently pared back, and one that just expanded even further, and discuss how to know which direction is best.

Session leaders: Blaire Bartish, Dayton Science Festival; Jonathan Frederick, North Carolina Science Festival


Researchers’ Roundtable

Ocean Room

3:30 – 4:00

Conference Closing

Ballrooms 1 and 2

Reconvene with the entire conference to reflect on the past two days, and celebrate announcements about the year ahead.

Summit on the Sand: Tuesday, June 5

After the conference ends, stick around for a limited, ticketed event: Summit on the Sand.

Sometimes the best ideas pop into mind when you kick off your shoes and relax a bit. So after an intense couple of conference days, you’ll want to hop on the bus with us and take a trip to the other side of St. Pete—the side where warm Gulf waters lap at white sand beaches. Buy the Summit on the Sand add-on and get transportation and dinner on Tuesday night, along with a sunset stroll on the beach to chew over the most inspiring bits from the Summit experience.

Tuesday, June 5, 6:00 – 10:00pm*
$50 ticket includes roundtrip bus from Hollander hotel, and

dinner at one of St. Pete's most famous seaside properties.
Ticket sales limited.
*Be on the bus by 6:00. Exact end time may change.


Questions? Contact Science Festival Alliance staff.

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