By Jing Ren
COLUMBIA – Scientists and science enthusiasts in Columbia are getting ready for a gathering to defend the role of science.
On Earth Day, April 22, the organization March for Science in Mid-Missouri will hold a local version of the Washington D.C. March for Science, a national non-partisan event promoting robust funding and communication of science in the public interest.
Three major activities will be held during the Columbia march:
- Starting at 2 p.m., six speakers will give talks on science at the Boone County Courthouse Amphitheater
- From 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., people can join the march along Eighth Street, from the courthouse columns to Peace Park
- From 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., a science festival will be held at Peace Park, where people can go and talk to science organizations and individual scientists.
Several educators, scientists and science students in Columbia will be at the courthouse amphitheater to call the public’s attention to evidence-based science, including Angela Speck, professor and Director of Astronomy at MU; veterinary radiologist Lisa Britt; Susan Nagel, professor at division of biological sciences at MU; Mike Szydlowski, K-12 Science Coordinator for the Columbia Public School District; and MU PhD students Kristofferson Culmer and Pattie Quackenbush.
Co-sponsored by the Science Communication and Public Engagement group at MU, the science festival will give the public an opportunity to understand what role science plays in policy-making process. Any organization or scientist that helps with science education and science policy is encouraged to sign up for a space and talk to people at the festival.
Anahita Zare, the president of the Science Communication and Public Engagement group, said there are already 25 groups signed up for a booth.
Zare said the festival will offer a platform for science outreach, and she emphasized that the event is a non-partisan activity, so no political stand will be imposed during the event.
“But if people want to talk to policy makers and learn the process, we will be happy to connect them with each other,” Zare said.
This is the first year that such a march has been held. The event is not only a call to the general public, but also a reminder to political leaders and policy makers to enact policies based on science in the public interest.
So far, the whole event has raised about $1,400, including $600 from the Graduate Professional Council at MU.
The organization is still asking donations from the public. Donations will all be spent on event needs such as equipment rental and road closure fees.
On their Facebook page, the organization recommends that people get to the Boone County Courthouse early and find parking spots. Suggested public parking garages are Hitt Street Garage and University Avenue Garage.
Besides Columbia, cities in Missouri that will join the march include Kansas City, St. Louis, Rolla, Springfield, Joplin and St. Joseph.