After more than two years as a digital event, the Center of Science and Industry’s annual Science Festival returned to an in-person format May 4-7.
The four-day event at COSI, 333 W Broad St. in Columbus, drew anywhere from 25,000-30,000 people, according to COSI director Frederic Bertley.
The event, which bills itself as the “largest STEM event in the Midwest,” featured more than 100 exhibitors outside the COSI building, all showcasing STEM areas of discipline – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to the public in subjects ranging from academics to pharmaceuticals to zoology.
The inaugural event was held in 2019.
“To bring it back in person, especially after people have been cooped up because of the pandemic, it was so much fun,” Bertley said. “It was so exciting to see so many people.”
Coming off a two-year hiatus for an in-person festival, he said, festival organizers focused on incorporating digital elements from the past couple of festivals into the year’s exhibits.
“There were some great digital resources that people could take from each tent and each space,” he said. “If you wanted to continue your learning or continue your experience, we made sure you had some free accessible web resources from every single tent.”
“It’s a great event for the city,” said Lou Von Thaer, president and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus-based nonprofit applied-sciences and technology-development company and one of the festival’s largest sponsors.
For this year’s festival, Battelle’s booth had an exhibit where children could make liquid-nitrogen ice cream, Von Thaer said, among other activities. One demonstration showed how carbon sequestration works – the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from emissions.
Battelle had 70 scientists and employees work booths, with another 20 of their family members showing up to help, he said.
“Although the weather was crummy and it was rainy, everyone still showed up and everyone had a great time,” Von Thaer said.