Our Guide To The Philadelphia Science Festival’s Free Science Carnival On The Parkway This Saturday, April 20

The Philadelphia Science Festival's Science Carnival on the Parkway packs more than 140 exhibitors into five hours of brainy fun. (Photos by Darryl W. Moran)

The Philadelphia Science Festival officially begins today, with more than 100 smart events scheduled through April 28, but we’re particularly stoked for this weekend’s festivities.

This Saturday brings the annual festival’s awesome Carnival on the Parkway, a free five-hour science bonanza showcasing more than 140 exhibitors and continuous (and educational!) fun — from family-friendly experiments and interactive games to a bevy of food trucks and plenty of live entertainment.

With oodles of ongoing activities, two outdoor stages, indoor shows and 14 food trucks, this year’s festival asks a huge range of questions and answers via excellent family-friendly engagement.

Read on for our guide to the food, free entertainment and educational fun. Check out the festival map below and the complete lineup of events and activities here.

• Food Trucks: Come hungry. An envoy of the city’s top food trucks will be situated throughout the festival grounds. At 20th Street and the Parkway, find tasty treats from Jimmies Cupcake Co., Lil Dan’s, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, PJ Whelihan’s Food Truck, Say Cheese, Street Food Philly and The Cow and the Curd. Around 22nd Street and the Parkway, look for Mac Mart, Payne Catering, Sweet Box Cupcakes and Vernalicious. On the southeast side of The Franklin Institute at 20th and Race streets, find fare from Chewy’s, Farm Truck Philly and Nomad Pizza.

Don’t-Miss Activities: With so many collaborators and activities to take in, it’s tough to know where to begin. Try starting at 22nd Street and the Parkway with the Energy Zone and exhibits dealing with energy conservation from PECO, GlaxoSmithKline and Temple University. Then, move east to check out bubble making with SABIC.

Around the Free Play Park Stage at 21st Street, look for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ activity Want to Make An Impression? and the Philadelphia Phillies’ take on tossing different pitches.

At Winter Street between 21st and 22nd streets, don’t miss the Philly Tech Week App Arcade, featuring in-development smart-phone applications, and Robotics Row, with its look at the mechanics and concepts of robots from students and experts.

Near Aviator Park Stage at 20th and Race streets, playtime rules with displays of giant tinker toys and activities from the festival’s official putty sponsor, Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld. At this festival site, the scientific spotlight shines on the sky, too, with aeronautics displays from The Boeing Company and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, plus a setup from the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society.

On Stage: A packed lineup on two alfresco stages keeps lively entertainment going all day. On the Free Play Park Stage, shows range from 15-minute cheerleading demos to spectacular science experiments (including The Franklin Institute’s Science Showdown!) to 45-minute sets from the interactive tunes of the Kaleldoscope Band. At Aviator Park Stage, programming is provided by Kids Corner, with host Kathy O’Connell. Performances include family-friendly music, juggling and magic and a conversation between O’Connell and The Franklin Institute’s Chief Astronomer, Derrick Pitts.

Kitchen Science: Head inside The Franklin Institute to Franklin Hall (access through the front steps) to check out activities and live demonstrations revolving around food and cooking. Every half hour from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. see such presentations as What’s Molecular Gastronomy? and Can We Make Ice Cream in an Instant? Ongoing activities include Sodium: Friend or Foe?, How Does Smell Affect Taste? and Can You Mix Oil and Vinegar?

An hourly entertainment schedule for the three stages and complete schedule of activities — Kids Corner Stage, Aviator Park Stage and Kitchen Science stage (inside The Franklin Institute) — is available here.

Traveling to the festival via public transportation is encouraged, as roads will be closed around the carnival. SEPTA’s trip planner offers helpful hints on getting around the city.

Science Carnival on the Parkway
When: Saturday, April 20, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 20th and 22nd streets
Cost: Free
More info: www.philasciencefestival.org


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