Wednesday, March 13, 2019
N.C. Science Festival to feature University Expo, workshops and ‘Brewing Science’

April marks the return of the statewide N.C. Science Festival (NCSF), a month-long celebration of science and public engagement in STEM fields. UNC Charlotte, for the eighth year, will participate in the festival’s mind-expanding public activities.

UNC Charlotte’s Science and Technology Expo is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 28, and it remains the University’s largest NCSF event and its grand finale.

As part of the 2019 festival, UNC Charlotte is offering a nine-event series of kid-stimulating science and technology workshops on most of the month’s weekends. And, new this year, the University is brewing up something expressly for adults: a scientific look at craft beer.

The Science and Technology Expo will include an ever-expanding set of activities, including robotics, rocketry, virtual people, live animals, lab experiments, explosive chemistry, exotic plants, fire engines, race cars, boats, and a lifelike machine or two. An event for the science-curious of all ages, the Expo will feature more than 100 hands-on activities and presentations. Many of these offer public-friendly glimpses into some more-than-cool current research work, developed by UNC Charlotte science and technology departments and labs.

The Expo, however, has grown to be much more than a showcase of University expertise. A host of industry and community organizations also are involved in what is now a regional festival of ingenuity and education. Among this year’s partnering organizations are STEM-oriented institutions such as, the Carolina Raptor Center, Great Outdoors University (N.C. Wildlife Federation), Charlotte IoT, NASCAR Hall of Fame, N.C. First and First Tech Challenge Robotics (100 Black Men of Charlotte). A number of K-12 schools participate as well, showcasing creative STEM activities going on in local classrooms. Finally, a number of North Carolina-based industries and educational institutions are involved, including CPCC and Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte (JWU-Charlotte).

As the Expo has grown, a number of distinctive “shows within the show” have developed, including chemistry professor Tom “Dr. Boom” Schmedake’s always popular Combustion Chemistry Show, a special Robotics Expo inside the adjacent Popp Martin Student Union, and, returning by popular demand, a chef from JWU-Charlotte will explore the anatomical science and culinary art of barbecue in a series of “Science of Meat” demonstrations/performances. A food truck will supply free samples after each show. Visitors can follow up the snacks with Nanodot Ice Cream, produced by UNC Charlotte’s Chemistry Department.

The UNC Charlotte Science and Technology Expo will be located on the University’s lower mall, across from the Popp Martin Student Union and adjacent to Halton Arena/Barnhardt Student Activity Center. The event is free and open to the public, and all campus parking is free on Sundays (the Student Union Deck is the recommended parking venue).

Other N.C. Science Festival events at UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte continues to offer an extensive (nine-event) series of full-day educational workshops for children, priced at a nominal fee, on topics sure to engage learning. The workshops are designed to provide age-flexible, high teacher-student ratio learning experiences that kids and parents can have together. All workshops require advance registration; information and registration is on the web.

New this year, in keeping with the 2019 N.C. Science Festival theme “Made in N.C.” is a science event aimed at adults – specifically those interested in craft beer. Craft brewing is a current culinary phenomenon, an experimental artform, a popular hobby and a burgeoning industry in the Charlotte region and in North Carolina.

On Monday, April 22, at 6:30 p.m. in UNC Charlotte Center City (320 E. 9th St.), UNC Charlotte and the N.C. Science Festival will present “Brewing Science: The Future of N.C. Beer,” a free public panel discussion featuring scientists, artisans and industry researchers involved in craft brewing, discussing the sophisticated present and possibly exotic future of North Carolina beer. 

The event’s panelists include Jen Blair, president of North American Craft Maltsters; Richard Chi, faculty in UNC Charlotte’s Biological Sciences Department; Pablo Gomez, White Labs (Asheville); and Folarin Oguntoyinbo and Brett Taubman, both faculty in Appalachian State University’s Fermentation Sciences program. Panelists will discuss topics such as the development of novel barleys and yeasts, the aromatic chemistry of hops and the microbial ecology involved in exotic fermentation practices. All-in-all, there’s a whole lot more science in beer making than most people guess. Home brewers and sophisticated beer geeks should come ready to ask their most difficult brewing questions. A reception will follow.

The event is free, but registration is required: “Brewing Science” is sponsored in part by Bird Song Brewing Company, Bold Missy Brewery, High Branch Brewing Company, Pilot Brewing and Old Mecklenburg Brewery.

Except for the workshops, all other UNC Charlotte N.C. Science Festival events are free and open to the public. Event locations, maps and more information is on the web or call 704-687-5743.

All events are sponsored by UNC Charlotte in association with the N.C. Science Festival. Major support is provided by the UNC System Office, through a grant administered by the N.C. Science Festival, and by a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center. FMC also is an event sponsor. University sponsorship is provided by UNC Charlotte Research and Economic Development.