Get ready for a different Scientastic in 2020

The “How does it work exhibition", last year. ©Guillaume Mühlebac

The “How does it work exhibition", last year. ©Guillaume Mühlebac

The program for EPFL’s annual science fair, which will be held the weekend of 7–8 November, once again contains a rich variety of topics, but in a more condensed format. Only a limited number of tickets will be available, but the talks and demonstrations will be streamed live for those unable to attend.

Same great science, slightly different format. The 2020 edition of EPFL’s Scientastic fair will feature all the highlights of years past: creative workshops for kids, expert talks to challenge you, a “How does it work?” exhibition to enlighten you, and lab demonstrations to wow you. This year’s main theme is the environment, which will be explored in ways that comply with all the latest public-health regulations. “We did everything we could to be able to hold the science fair with the same level of fun and education but without putting the public at risk,” says Farnaz Moser, the head of EPFL’s Science Outreach Department.

Those public-health regulations include having no more than 300 people (attendees plus organizers) at the venue at any one time. Visits will therefore be grouped into six 3-hour slots over the weekend. Each of the six slots will include workshops for kids (13 and under), an expert talk (for visitors aged 14 and over), the “How does it work?” exhibition, and a chemistry or physics demonstration. The public will also be able to discover two artworks by Etienne Krähenbühl who will be present to explain his work. Pathways will be laid out to guide visitors through the event and keep the groups separate, and all surfaces will be disinfected after each group finishes.

Details about the program – including age groups, time slots and the speakers’ topics – are available on the Scientastic website. You must register beforehand and will be asked to pay a symbolic entry fee of CHF 5 per person. Face masks will be handed out and must be worn at all times. Please note that the health and safety requirements may change depending on how the pandemic develops.

A hackathon for teenagers aged 16 and over

The fair’s theme – the environment – will be explored through the workshops, talks and the “How does it work?” exhibit. The fair will also feature two sculptures by local artist Etienne Krähenbühl, who will be on hand to discuss his work. One new activity this year is Imaginarium – a hackathon that will be held on Sunday, 8 November. Eight groups of eight participants, 16 years of age or older, will spend the day brainstorming ideas for cleaner, greener approaches to four key challenges: transportation, food and consumer goods, tourism and decentralized cities. The hackathon, which is being held in association with student organization Global Earth Horizon Talk, will be overseen by mentors and include expert speakers. Each group will present its ideas at the end of the day. Registration is required.

For the first time this year, the talks and legendary demonstrations will be streamed live for those unable to attend in person.