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Festival explores chemistry where play, science and art meet

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Science educator Kevin Delaney, with the assistance of a brother and sister team from the audience, re-imagines William Tell’s feat of hitting an apple off of his son’s head during the Saturday Science and Art Festival at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. Delaney and Tara create a vortex of foggy air inside a trash can and pound on the can to push the air to knock a cup off of Steven’s head. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Music, chess, astronomy, drones, space history, a living dairy cow and Cheetos frozen in liquid nitrogen that caused their munchers to exhale smokey vapor describe only a smattering of the many offerings at the “Second Annual Roswell Science and Art Festival” held Saturday.

New Mexico Military Institute cadets give kiddos opportunities to do hands-on demonstrations of scientific principles at the Make Lab stations and outdoor exhibits they staff during Saturday’s Science and Art Festival at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. Chase Lamkin, left, and Claire Pettigrew, work with a young girl to find the center of gravity in an object she creates. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Hundreds of people gathered inside and outside of the Roswell Convention & Civic Center to explore the intersections of science, art and creativity.

Science and nature groups had informational booths and activities. New Mexico Military Institute cadets ran a Make Lab with many indoor and outdoor stations for youth to learn about scientific principles through hands-on projects. Southwest Dairy Farmers had a mobile dairy classroom, which includes a live dairy cow and a person to answer questions. The Roswell Museum and Art Center and the Roswell Public Library offered several learning activities aimed at preschoolers. The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs had its Wonders on Wheels mobile museum about space history. Local middle school students invented Mars colonies that were on display. A walk-in planetarium, drone piloting, a chalk art contest and a life-size chessboard also entertained and educated.

“It is so important to have an understanding of the word, and art is how we express ourselves when we understand the world,” said keynote presenter Kevin Delaney. “And when those two things come together, they can do amazing things.”

Delaney of Little Rock, Arkansas, has been the science presenter for the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” since 2014 and was on the Science Channel TV series “Street Science” for two years. He is also a playwright and a performer and once served as a visitor experience director for a science museum in Arkansas.

Delaney worked with youth volunteers from the audience to create visual demonstrations of sublimation, fluid dynamics, molecule condensation and the Leidenfrost effect. Visible gas vapors, glycerin bubbles, popping lids and the frozen Cheetos entertained, while many of his lessons also came with historical narratives about the people who first discovered or explained the scientific principles.

He ended with an exhortation that youth consider the sacrifices of scientific pioneers and, like them, be willing to engage in scientific inquiries and actions based on the findings, even if in the face of opposition.

“Think about the problems that we have, like the global climate crisis that we are in right now,” he said. “A lot of the younger people in here are going to need to help solve those problems. That’s why we need people to study science.”

The event was coordinated primarily by the Roswell Museum and Art Center, with the participation of several community organizations. Xcel Energy and the RMAC Foundation funded the event, and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, the New Mexico Military Institute, Goddard High School, New Mexico MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Association) and Systems Go New Mexico served as organizing partners.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.