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 Businesses, Universities and Professionals Bring Interactive, Behind-The-Scenes Opportunities to San Diego Festival Science & Engineering

​​​​​​An incredible week is shaping up to celebrate what San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering organizers call “an adventure as we explore science wonders for all ages.” San Diego County businesses and universities as well as professionals are opening their doors to showcase the business of science right here in our region. 

The San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, which is a program of the BIOCOM Institute in partnership with UC San Diego, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego County Office of Education, aims to encourage and get kids excited about science and related fields to inspire them to become tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) innovators. The festival, presented by Illumina, also helps continue our region’s reputation of being a leader in the science industry. The goal of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering is to show how science and engineering is right in our “backyard.” 

In 2014, more than 60,000 kids, parents, scientists, educators and community members participated throughout the week, plus an additional 24,000 children, parents and STEM enthusiasts attended EXPO Day. Festival Week consists of six days of learning, interaction and behind-the-scenes opportunities for kids in grades kindergarten through 12th grade and their families to ignite the love for all things science.

New this year, festival organizers and representatives from Project Lead the Way are organizing the first-ever STEM College Connections Fair on Sunday, March 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. at San Diego State University (SDSU). The STEM College Connections Fair will feature 40 to 50 colleges and universities from around the nation with innovative STEM related majors. High school and middle school students are encouraged to attend the fair with their parents for an informational and exciting day filled with Q&A panel discussions, and a College Expo Fair held at SDSU’s Montezuma Hall. Students will speak with college advisors and have the opportunity to explore both regional and nationwide opportunities. For more information, visit the festival website at​.

Festival Week culminates with EXPO Day, with more than 130 local businesses, corporations, and organizations providing interactive, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math exhibits and activities to budding K-12 science lovers, but everyone is welcome. EXPO Day is free and open to the public. 

“We all know San Diego is a hot bed for scientific innovation, in a region which offers a uniquely collaborative spirit, high concentration of world-class research institutions, and a strong foundation for new company creation and development,” says Sara DW Pagano, managing director, San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering. “Our festival is a catalyst to transfer that knowledge and collaboration to show students and their parents how science translates into careers and further fuels our economy in San Diego County. Our commitment to helping kids pursue degree programs in STEM fields is evident through our new STEM College Connections Fair this year. Science is truly all around us and is a foundation of what we do, experience and use every day.” 

The San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering website has a complete list of Festival Week events and encourages the public to head over to the Festival website to plan their itinerary for the week. Many of the activities are free and many of them can accommodate school groups, scout troops, and other individuals, students and families. 

Here are some of the Festival Week highlights (presented by geographic location). All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. 


Super STEM Saturday hosted by Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and The Classical Academies
Saturday, March 14, 2015
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
California State University San Marcos
333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA 92096
Cost: Free
Recommended for ages 5 and up and their families.
Super STEM Saturday is our North County kick-off event and is designed to expose and engage kids of all ages and their families to the diverse and exciting fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM disciplines. Explore more than 75 interactive demonstrations and hands-on science activities at Super STEM Saturday, including rocket launches, build-a-robot stations, model displays, scientist chats and animal encounters. The brainchild of The Classical Academies and held in partnership with CSUSM, Super STEM Saturday has grown into a popular North County event that draws over 5,000 science enthusiasts each year to the university campus. The event is free and open to the public. Super STEM Saturday is sponsored by ViaSat. Learn more at Complimentary parking available in Lot F on the CSUSM campus. For more information, contact: Laurie Schmelzer at or 760-750-7201.

Science Fun for Kids 9 to 99
Saturday, March 14, 2015
9 a.m. to noon
San Diego Miramar College
10440 Black Mountain Rd, Science Building S-5
San Diego, CA 92126
Cost: Free
Recommended for ages 9 and up and their families.
San Diego Miramar College presents the annual event, “Science Fun for Kids 9 to 99.” Visit our state-of-the-art labs for hands-on activities such as How to Get DNA From Anything, Come to Your Senses, Building with Bones, Alternative Energy, Painting with Marine Critters, Slime/Molecules, Blast off with Diet Coke, Stop the Epidemic and more! The free event is in the state of the art labs at San Diego Miramar College's Science and Technology Building. Bring your whole family or your class, children as young as age 5 can attend. Advance registration not required. For more information or directions, contact: Dr. Rebecca Bowers-Gentry via email at

Lighten Up! 
Sunday, March 15, 2015
3:30 to 5 p.m. 
Girl Scouts
3050 Las Palmas (in Kit Carson Park)
Escondido, CA 92025
Cost: FREE!
Recommended for ages 5 to 11
Get a kid’s-eye view of the science of light. Bend lasers with Jell-O, walk some waves and make rainbows. See your secret messages revealed by invisible light. Then use magic glasses to experience how astronomers gaze at the stars and distant planets. Light up your love of science, ignite the sparks of your imagination and get ready to change the world: Science fiction props like light sabers, invisibility cloaks, warp speed and transporters could all be real someday! Patches will be available for purchase at the event for $2. For more information, contact: Stephanie Dawes at or 619-610-0792.

Imagination Innovation at Cymer
Sunday, March 15, 2015
1 to 4 p.m.
17075 Thornmint Court
San Diego, CA 92127 
Cost: Free
Recommended for ages 11 to 14 and their families.
Cymer is an industry leader in developing light courses, used by chipmakers worldwide to pattern advanced semiconductor chips. Kids and their families interact with Cymer employees to learn how their technology affects their everyday life in a fun, hands-on way. There are six stations that provide an educational, fun, hands-on activity that teaches them something about science, technology, or engineering. To RSVP, please email

Escondido Police Crime Lab/Traffic Investigations
Monday, March 16, 2015 and Tuesday, March 17, 2015
9 to 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Escondido Police Department
1163 N. Centre City Parkway
Escondido, CA 92078
Cost: Free
Recommended for students in middle and high school and their families.
The Escondido Police Department aims to expose students to the Crime Lab and Traffic Division and their dependence on math, physics, and scientific principles to complete investigations. The Crime Lab and Traffic Division at the Escondido Police Department will showcase the equipment utilized to gather data and conduct experiments used for investigations. Officers and laboratory technicians will explain how scientific principles are used daily to solve crimes and determine how traffic collisions occurred. To RSVP to this event visit, For more information please contact Officer Scott Walters at or 760-644-1181.

Preschool Workshops
Monday, March 16 to Wednesday, March 18, 2015
10 to 10:30 a.m.
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
320 North Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025
Cost: Free (Advance registration required)
Recommended for ages 3 to 5 years and their families.
The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum offers three workshops for budding little scientists:

Monday, March 16 – 10 to 10:30 a.m. Bugs and Butterflies: Learn about pollinators in this hands-on preschool workshop. Find out about the insects that live in our gardens and help make our flowers and plants grow. Get a special look at these bug friends in our Pollinator Garden. Designed for children ages 3-5.
Tuesday, March 17 – 10 to 10:30 a.m. From Seed to Plant: Explore the life cycle and anatomy of plants in this hands-on preschool workshop. Practice early math skills by sorting seeds into categories and matching them to their adult plants. Prepare to get your hands dirty as we plant seeds in our Organic Vegetable Garden.
Wednesday, March 18 – 10 to 10:30 a.m. Math Tools: Sharpen your early math skills in this hands-on, preschool workshop. Have fun using scientific tools and everyday objects to explore classification, ordering and pattern making. Make your own counting beads and gain ideas on how to continue the learning at home. Designed for children ages 3-5.
Free with advanced registration. You must register at least 24 hours in advance with your name, number of adults and number of children in your group. Contact Lindy Villa at or call 760-233-7755 ext. 1002

Safe Solar Observing – Sun Party at OPT
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Oceanside Photo & Telescope 
918 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92054
Cost: Free
Recommended for middle school students.
Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT) will have multiple telescopes set up in the OPT parking lot for safe viewing of the sun, in white light and H-alpha. There is a lot to see and learn about our nearest star. Meet sun experts who will be on hand to explain what you are seeing, in anticipation of the great solar eclipse of 2017, when most of the U.S. will be treated to a total solar eclipse! Maps will be available showing the best places to observe this event. Registered attendees will receive a pair of eclipse glasses. This event is great for people of all ages. Note: Event is weather dependent. If it's cloudy or raining the event will be rescheduled. For more information or to register, contact: Mark Thompson at or 760-722-3343.

Superhero 101
Thursday, March 19, 2015
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Leidos, Inc.
2985 Scott Street
Vista, CA 92081
Cost: Free
Recommended for ages 7 and up and their families.
Leidos specializes in non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems used at border crossings, ports of entry, and airports world-wide. These systems primarily use x-ray technology to inspect vehicles, cargo, and baggage and some of the systems detect explosives. During this event we will provide a safe and fun environment while introducing attendees to our technology as well as some of our equipment. For more information or to register, contact Brian Fowler at, 781-308-7000 or Diana Noland at, 858-826-7312.


SDSU Science & Engineering Sampler
Saturday, March 14, 2015
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
San Diego State University (SDSU) College of Sciences & College of Engineering
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
Cost: Free
Recommended for ages 5 to 18 and their families.
The College of Sciences and College of Engineering at San Diego State University opens their doors to K-12 students and families to showcase interactive exhibits such as: CSI Meets CSU, telescopes, planetarium showings, laser demonstrations, Electron Microscope Facility, making ice cream using liquid nitrogen, and much more. Get additional details at: For more information, contact: Eric Ackerman at or call 619-594-6081.

Girls Day Out: Middle School Edition
Presented by San Diego State University (SDSU) Society of Women Engineers/Project Lead The Way
Sunday, March 15, 2015
8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
SDSU College of Sciences & College of Engineering
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
Cost: $5 per student.
Recommended for middle school age students and their parents.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and San Diego State University's Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter are hosting a Spring 2015 Girls Day Out on Sunday, March 15, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 the SDSU campus! Student workshops will include hands-on activities, such as learning 3D CAD modeling, code a game, civil and structural engineering and chemistry, led by SDSU's College of Engineering organizations. Parent workshops will include scholarship opportunities, various STEM programs in San Diego, and much more. Registration is first come, first serve until the spots are filled. Once students have submitted the application form, they must confirm their attendance by completing the two following steps: 1) paying the $5 registration fee (payment link will be provided in their follow-up email), and 2) emailing or mailing us their signed parent permission form prior to the event. For more information and to register, contact: Michelle Bunn at or call 619-594-7942.

Taylor Guitars Factory Tour
Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, 2015
1 p.m.
Taylor Guitars
1980 Gillespie Way
El Cajon, CA 92020 
Cost: Free
Recommended for college students and their families.
Founded in 1974, Taylor Guitars is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium acoustic and electric guitars. Known for blending an innovative use of modern technology with a master craftsman’s attention to detail, Taylor guitars are widely considered the best sounding and easiest to play in the world. Many of today’s leading musicians make Taylor their guitar of choice, including Jason Mraz, Steven Curtis Chapman, Zac Brown and Taylor Swift. The Taylor Guitars factory tour takes guests through the steps of guitar construction. From wood selection to final assembly, guests will experience each process as a guitar evolves from raw wood into a finished instrument. While not physically demanding, the tour does include a fair amount of walking and climbing a short flight of stairs. Due to the technical nature, the tour may not be suitable for small children. Taylor Guitars can only accommodate up to 80, so groups of 10 or more guests are required to make a reservation to guarantee space on the tour. The tour lasts one hour and 15 minutes. The Taylor Guitars tour takes guests through the steps of guitar construction, from wood selection to final assembly. 

Dates and times of tours are: 

Monday, March 16 at 1 p.m.
Tuesday, March 17 at 1 p.m.
Wednesday, March 18 at 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 19 at 1 p.m.
Friday, March 20 at 1 p.m.
For more information or to register for the tour, contact: Molly Buchanan at or 619-258-1207.

Ms. Smarty-Plants™ Fieldtrip at The Water Conservation Garden
Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19, 2015
9:30 to 11 a.m.
The Water Conservation Garden
12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West
El Cajon, CA 92019
Cost: Free
Recommended for students in elementary school and their teachers. 
Field trip opportunity. Visit Ms. Smarty-Plants™ at the beautiful Water Conservation Garden for an outdoor learning adventure! Ms. Smarty-Plants™ takes you on a fun and interactive journey winding through the water cycle, the Colorado River, all the way to your faucet making conservation connections along the way. With her special mixture of music and magic Ms. Smarty-Plants™ ignites the EARTH HERO in each of us! Learn a song in American Sign Language that inspires all to change the world with our own “Two Hands.” Tour The Garden’s trails and exhibits and plant a drought tolerant plant to take home. The program is approximately 1.5 hours in length and is directly in line with California State Standards, STEM and Common Core. To register, visit: For more information, teachers need to contact Jillian Quint at or call 619-660-0614 ext. 16.

A-STEM Day at Gillespie Field
Air Group One, Commemorative Air Force
Thursday, March 19, 2015
8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
San Diego Air & Space Museum, Gillespie Field Annex
335 Kenney Street
El Cajon, CA 92020
Cost: Free
Recommended for students in middle school and their families.
A-STEM is a youth education and motivation program with scheduled sequential topics. Subjects include Aerodynamics, Aerospace Materials, and Space Operations. Students groups are divided into escorted smaller groups that rotate through several learning stations with experienced aerospace instructors and technicians discussing aerodynamics, propulsion, aerospace materials, space operations, communications, and aerospace careers. Students are in direct contact with real aircraft and equipment, with the assistance of qualified pilots/instructors and engineers from various industries, such as GKN Aerospace in El Cajon, California. For more information, contact: John Telles at
or 760-458-4230.


River Bugs Are Cool!
Saturday, March 14, 2015
10 a.m. to noon 
San Diego River Park Foundation in partnership with the 1:1 Movement
Meet-up location: 5505 Friars Road, San Diego, CA 92110
Cost: Free
Recommended for K-8 students and families.
Spend a day on the river! Join scientists from the San Diego River Park Foundation for the first rotation to learn how bugs can unlock secrets about the San Diego River’s health!  Work with scientists to collect a sample and examine real living aquatic inverts. For the second rotation, the 1:1 Movement will be leading a hands-on experiment focused on the waste we all produce, and the connections between personal consumption and the direct effects on our community, the River, and even river bugs! Students will have the opportunity to problem solve tangible solutions to lessen their impact. Supplies will be provided, but please wear clothes that can get a little dirty. The activities take about one hour, and we will have two rotations begin on the hour at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. RSVPs are required, and please indicate which rotation you'd like to attend and how many youth participants (and their ages, please).  Address provided is the meeting location for the event, but parking is available at the SDPD Western Division at 5215 Gaines Street, San Diego 92018. From the parking lot, follow signs to cross Friars Rd. at the signal to enter the Mission Valley Preserve. For more information or to RSVP, contact: Sarah Hutmacher at or 619-297-7380.

Backstage Tour at San Diego Junior Theatre
Saturday, March 14, 2015
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. 
San Diego Junior Theatre
1700 Village Place
San Diego, CA 92101
Cost: Free
Recommended for ages 6 and up and their families.
Visit San Diego Junior Theatre at the Casa del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park for an exclusive Behind the Scenes Tour, where patrons will learn about the technical elements that surround a theatre production. See how scenic, lighting, and sound design can transform a bare stage into an entirely new world. Then purchase a ticket to see "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" that afternoon! For more information or to RSVP, contact: Kim Heil at or 619-239-1311 ext. 229.

Saturday Science Club for Girls: Exploring Entomology
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Noon to 2 p.m.
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
1875 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Cost: $12, members, $14, non-members
Recommended for girls K 5-8 and their families.
Come investigate exciting science topics at the Saturday Science Club for Girls. Learn about the complex behavior of ants with local biologist Noa Pinter-Wollman and discover the invisible world of pheromones. To attend the event you must pre-register by calling 619-238-1233 ext. 806. Learn more at

Balboa Park STEAM Family Day
Sunday, March 15, 2015
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Balboa Park (various museums and organizations)
San Diego, CA 92101
Cost: Various. Children 12 and under are admitted free (restrictions apply) at participating museums with a paid adult admission.
Recommended for ages 3 and up and their families.
STEAM Family Day brings a world of discovery to children of all ages. The park-wide event will put the fun in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) through hands-on activities, crafts, demonstrations, special exhibitions, and more! Activities will take place inside participating museums from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and are free to kids 12 and under with a paid adult admission. Back by popular demand is Russell, the 11-foot electric giraffe, and a number of other specially designed Maker exhibits that will be on view throughout the Park. Note: All crafts, demos and activities on the Prado walkway are free. For a complete schedule of activities, visit

Ocean Exploration with Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography 
Saturday, 14 March to​ Saturday, March 21, 2015
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, CA 92037
Cost: Free with admission
Recommended for middle school age students.
Guests will be able to explore and discover ocean science while participating in programs designed to get minds thinking and hands moving! Each day of the week will present an ocean related topic from plankton to whales!

The complete schedule is as follows:

Saturday, March 14: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 15: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Monday, March 16: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday, March 17: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday, March 18: 1 to 3 p.m.
Thursday, March 19: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday, March 20: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday, March 21: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, contact: Danny Beckwith at or call 858-534-8401.

The New Children’s Museum is a Big Fan of Wind Energy!
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Noon to 2 p.m.
The New Children's Museum
200 W. Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101 
Cost: Free with museum admission
Recommended for ages 3 and up and their families.
Impress your family by creating wind energy with your body, and then blow them away with a take-home art piece of your own! The interactive artwork, Wind Vessel, by artist Miki Iwasaki makes wind power, a resource we often take for granted, visible. Following your scientific exploration, spend the day playing throughout the Museum. For more information, contact: Ashley McPeek at or 619-795-1522.

Behind-The-Scenes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography 
Thursday, March 19, 2015
5:30 to 8 p.m.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
8840 Biological Grade
La Jolla, CA 92037
Cost: Children 13 and under: Free, Adults $35
Recommended for age 5 and up.
Behind-the-scenes lab tours at Scripps Oceanography to include:  Hydraulics lab, featuring a wind wave channel, a wave flow channel, a deep tank and pressure testing. Experience the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) specializing in wave measurement, swell modeling and forecasting, and the analysis of coastal environment data. The creator of Squidtoons comic strip and Jacob School of Engineering students will also be at the event! Snacks and beverages to be served. For more information, contact: Meredith Caccese McConvill at or call 858-534-6945.

STEM Professionals Needed for “Ask Me Booth” at EXPO Day
There are still spots available for STEM professionals to participate in the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering’s EXPO Day “Ask Me Booth” at Petco Park on March 21, 2015. Professionals get a chance to answer questions and create smiles as they watch the look on the faces of the children and adults who want to meet a real live scientist and engineer. Various times for shifts are available.  


Music Notes at Discovery Charter School
Thursday, March 19, 2015
6 to 7 p.m.
Discovery Charter School
1100 Camino Biscay
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Cost: Free
Recommended for K-12 students and their families.
Music Notes is an educational music company founded by Jimmy Pascasio and LaMar Queen, two middle school teachers in South Central Los Angeles. Their goal is to increase student engagement in school by providing high quality educational music and videos to educators and their students. They create original rap songs to help students learn and remember math concepts. They work tirelessly to provide students across the United States with music that not only sounds good, but teaches as well. This is event at Discovery Charter School is open to the public to attend.

For more information or to volunteer at EXPO Day, contact Sara DW Pagano at 858-455-0300 ext. 104 or

Many of the Festival Week activities are free and many of them can accommodate school groups, scout troops, and other individuals, students and families. Admission to EXPO Day at PETCO Park is free. Sponsors for the 2015 San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering include Presenting Sponsor: Ilumina; Gold Sponsors: ABC 10, Azteca America, the City of San Diego Educational Development Tourism Support, Diversity in STEAM Magazine, Microsoft, Qualcomm Foundation, San Diego Padres; ViaSat, Inc.; Silver Sponsors: Biocom Purchasing Group, Cox San Diego, Energy 103.7, KyXy 96.5, Hologic, Inc., Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego County Office of Education, Time Warner Cable, VWR; Copper Sponsors: Ackerman Foundation, County of San Diego, Cubic Corporation, Cymer LLC, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Scatena Daniels Communications, Thermo Fisher, Think Blue San Diego, UTC Aerospace, Vertex; Krypton Sponsors: Mission Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, Pfizer Inc.; Titanium Sponsors: Cox Cares Foundation, D&K Engineering, EMD Millipore, General Atomics, International Bridge Technologies, Inc., LEGOLAND California, Point Nazarene University, San Diego National Defense Industry Association, Raytheon; We Love STEM Sponsors: American Elements, Canale Communications, San Diego Financial Literacy Center, Thermo Fisher, UTC Aerospace and Vertex.

To keep the festival free, businesses and individuals are encouraged to sponsor and donate to support the program. For more information about festival events and activities or sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, visit the website or contact Sara Pagano, managing director, at

About the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering

The mission of the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering is to engage kids in science and engineering. By doing this, the organization expands the general public’s understanding of the relevancy of science and engineering in everyday lives, illuminates why the United States must maintain its leadership role in science and technology, and work with parents and teachers to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) innovators. For more information, visit or call 858-455-0300 ext. 104.