Montana State University

Thousands expected to attend new MSU festival celebrating science and engineering

September 12, 2013 -- MSU News Service

The first Montana Science and Engineering Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, at Bobcat Stadium.    High-Res Available

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BOZEMAN – A Sept. 21 festival to celebrate science and engineering will have people trying to break a Guinness world record for the largest astronomy lesson ever.  

Festival goers can also watch robots wrestle and babies crawl. They’ll launch eggs, water balloons, pop-bottle rockets and a weather balloon.

In general, the 4,000 people who are expected to attend the first Montana Science and Engineering Festival will carry on in ways that normally don’t occur on a Saturday in Montana State University’s football stadium, according to organizers with the Montana Space Grant Consortium.

The free public festival will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium, the Museum of the Rockies and the American Computer and Robotics Museum. Earlier in the morning, to kick off the festival, there will be three races where participants will run, walk or toddle through a model of the solar system as they head toward the sun. The night before the festival will be a public presentation about MSU’s first satellite in space.

In addition to scheduled activities will be concession stands and a number of interactive booths. Visitors can learn how sheep combat weeds on organic farms, see MSU’s entries in national robot competitions, watch a laser light show and much more. As a jazz band performs, listeners can learn about the science behind the sound waves it is producing. Festival attendees can watch a dance and film related to black holes. They can have their faces painted, try a climbing wall and possibly visit Smokey Bear.

“The festival leverages the strengths of MSU’s learning, discovery and engagement with the strengths of our local technical industry to establish a tradition for a fun and engaging community event,” said Angela Des Jardins, director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium.

An official activity of MSU’s Year of Engaged Leadership, MSU’s pilot festival is worth 1,000 points for MSU students who are enrolled in the ChampChange program. The program provides incentives for students to connect to MSU’s academic and extra-curricular events and activities.

The agenda so far for the festival and pre-festival activities is:

Friday, Sept. 20:

6 p.m. – “Small Town Satellites: The story of Montana State’s First Satellite in Space” by Ehson Mosleh. Baxter Ballroom in downtown Bozeman. This is a Café Scientifique presentation.

Saturday, Sept. 21:

8:30 a.m. – Toddlers’ 65-meter crawl, northeast side of Bobcat Stadium. Participants will race from a model of Mercury to a model of the sun.

8:40 a.m. – 1K fun run for kids, northeast side of the stadium. Children will run from a model of the sun to a model of Mars and back. 

9  a.m. – 5K Space Race, northeast side of the stadium. Runners will start at a scale model of Neptune and run or walk past scale models of eight planets on their way to a model of the sun. To register and learn more, go to

10 a.m.

Festival and concession stands open.

“The Elevators” jazz band performs, with an instrument showing the science of the sound waves they are producing, northwest side of the football field.

The American Computer and Robotics Museum will be free and open all day.

10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. – All science/engineering activity-sharing booths open.

10:15 to 11 a.m. – Kid-friendly presentation on “Sun-Earth Connections” by Lincoln Gulley, Space Race organizer, MSU student and officer in MSU’s Space Public Outreach Team. The presentation will be given outside of the stadium, northeast corner, at the mobile classroom.

10:15 to 10:45 a.m.  – Weather balloon launch on the football field.

11 a.m. –

Egg-drop competition from the stadium stands, west end of section 114.

Paper airplane distance competition from the stadium stands, east end of section 114.

Water balloon launching competition outside of the stadium, north corner in the “Tailgate” lot.

11:30 a.m. -- “A Shout Across Time” film, followed by “Talking about Einstein” interview with Nico Yunes, MSU Department of Physics. Museum of the Rockies auditorium.

Noon – “Black (W)Hole” show.  (Presentation repeats about every 10 minutes). Museum of the Rockies planetarium.

12:45 to 1:30 p.m. – Astronomy lesson about the sun. More than 526 people need to gather on the football field to break the Guinness world record for largest astronomy lesson given.  Charles Kankelborg, faculty member in MSU’s Department of Physics, will present the lesson.

1:30 to 2 p.m.  --

 All science/engineering activity-sharing booths will re-open.

Headwaters Dance Company will perform a dance inspired by the orbits of black holes. Football field.

2 p.m. – Festival closes, but the American Computer and Robotics Museum will remain open until 4 p.m.

This year’s event was funded by the Montana Space Grant Consortium, MSU’s College of Engineering, MSU’s College of Letters and Science, the MSU Alumni Foundation, the president’s office and the provost’s office. Professional photography was donated by Jake Peterson Photography. The MSU Bookstore also donated to the festival.

Next year’s festival is one of 12 in the nation to receive funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. All will be new or dramatically expanded events serving communities with a relatively small resource base compared to major metropolitan markets. The other festivals will be located in Missoula; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Jonesboro, Ark.;  Fort Pierce, Fla.; Bowling Green, Ky.; Schenectady, N.Y; Dayton, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; Ashland, Ore.; Charleston, S.C.; and Roanoke, Va.

For more details and updates about this year’s festival at MSU, go to

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or