Science festival aims to inspire

The first San Diego Science Festival shifted into high gear after a news conference last week that called attention to the importance of science in the local economy.

With more than 500 events planned - from class, lectures and math field days to an all-day expo on April 4 in Balboa Park - the festival aims to inspire youths to consider science careers, foster community awareness in science and showcase what is unique in San Diego’s science community to the rest of the world, its organizers said.

Mayor Jerry Sanders, speaking at the news conference at UCSD on Wednesday, said, “San Diego is really built right now on science. We’re at the epicenter. Science creates jobs, opportunities, puts San Diego on the map worldwide.”

The festival is also putting the spotlight on state budget cuts affecting science and math education.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a UC regent, called science education the key to future economic prosperity.

“If you want to build a great economy,” he said, “you build it on science and you build it on an investment in the educational system. That’s the only way to do it.”

Also speaking on Wednesday was J. Craig Venter, a pioneer in genomic research, who said: “We have to come up with new sources of energy, new treatments for emerging infections and understanding climate change. Without a basis in science, we will not move society forward.”

Art Ellis, UCSD vice chancellor of research, noted that education is a core mission of the science festival.

“Great new ideas are emerging from campuses like UCSD,” he said, “and we’re taking those ideas and moving them into the marketplace where it’s possible to benefit society.”

High school students excelling in science, including members of Einstein’s Daughters, an all-girls high school robotics team from San Diego, were prominently featured at the UCSD science news conference.

Learn about the San Diego Science Festival at