From left: Four-year-olds Tadhg Kolodner, of Mt. Airy, Maeve Quinlan, of Chestnut Hill, and Rhys Esibill, of Chestnut Hill, feast on hotdogs and popcorn at J.S. Jenks Academy of Art and Sciences' annual FunFest which was held in conjunction with this year's Discovery Day on Saturday, April 25. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

This weekend more than a thousand visitors flocked to Chestnut Hill to find out just “Where Science Can Take You” – the theme of this year’s 2015 Philadelphia Science Festival, which runs from April 24 to May 2, and is presented by the Dow Chemical Company and organized by The Franklin Institute.

This year Chestnut Hill hosted free family-friendly events: Astronomy Night, Discovery Day and an after-school science program. In conjunction with Discovery Day, which was held at J.S. Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences in Chestnut Hill, Friends of J.S. Jenks held its annual Funfest fundraiser, which raises money for technology, science and art programming and other enrichment activities.

Martha Sharkey, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District, said this year’s events were a huge success and that her group looks forward to “continuing to build a strong partnership with the Franklin Institute to bring more science-related activities to the community.”

The Chestnut Hill Business District, Chestnut Hill College and J.S. Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences partnered with the Franklin Institute to participate in this year’s Astronomy Night, which was held on Friday, April 24, at Jenks.

Al Lamperti, a former CHC adjunct professor and three faculty members from the college’s science department, Elliot Tammaro, Len Jensen and Mike Atwell, assisted attendees in exploring the evening sky.

“Between 150 and 200 people looked through three telescopes viewing our Moon, Venus and Jupiter and its moons,” Lamperti said. “Looking at the smiles and listening to [participants] vocalizing their amazement at viewing through the telescope – many for the first time – is very enjoyable. The Jenks students did an amazing job preparing PowerPoint presentations shown on iPads, and they taught the folks waiting on line. Kudos to them and their teacher, Robert Kenyon, for putting much effort into this educational endeavor.”

Sharkey said on Saturday, Jenks play yard was again “filled with laughter, learning, and people having a great time.”

“It was great to see so many of our local businesses and institutions participate in Discovery Day to show attendees how science is a part of our everyday lives,” she said.

One of the favorite activities was the 100-foot-long, low-friction luge, which offered kids an opportunity to learn the mechanics of riding a sled – positioning, steering and stopping – before trying their hand at one of the fastest sports on ice. Participants also had the chance to interact with Olympian Summer Britcher, who finished 15th in luge singles, and Jayson Terdiman, who finished 11th in doubles at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. U.S. Luge Junior Coach Fred Zimny, junior athlete Justin Taylor and Dow employees discussed the science behind the luge.

“We have had a line at least 10 deep all day,” said Zimny, who was the 2000 U.S. Olympic Committee Coach of the Year. “The more kids we can introduce to luge, the better it is for the sport.”

Anne Marie Branco, a senior at Mt. Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, showed attendees the science behind a bubble.

“Everyone knows a bubble, but most people don’t know how they work or anything about them,” she said. “We wanted to know if it’s possible to make a square bubble. Our conclusion was yes, it is possible and no, it’s not.”

She explained that while you can make a square bubble using a metal cube, you can’t make a free standing square bubble. Bubbles are always going to be round.

“A sphere is a shape with no pressure points,” Branco said. “No matter where you try to look at a bubble, it’s going to have the same pressure points. When you have a square you are actually pulling the corners.”

No matter what your age, Saturday’s festival had something for everyone – from science experiments to bouncies.

It was a day bursting with fun.

For more information about The Philadelphia Science Festival go to or call 215-448-1346