The festival’s headliners were Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Mythbusters. They both appeared on Saturday, when I’m told the crowds reached epic Tahrir Square-like levels. I love me some Bill Nye, but not enough to wrestle with hundreds of children. There were plenty of other things and people to see, though: astronauts and spies, Mayim Bialik, robots and cheerleaders, and a guy who used math to prove that most science fiction movies are heavy on fiction and light on science.
Oh, and the optical illusions guy. I spent most of his presentation staring confusedly at his shirt.
My volunteer assignment was manning the book signing line, which wasn’t terribly busy.
It was the ideal volunteer assignment for me, since we both know I hate people. I did manage to answer a few questions from passers-by, though, so I felt marginally helpful. Then someone would ask where the plasma ball was and all I could muster was a blank stare. Never had my two business degrees seemed less impressive than in the face of a child looking for “the booth giving out the glasses with the lights in them.”
What would I advise a first-time attendee at the next fest (in 2013? 2014?) to do? Go early, for one thing. Tattoo your contact information on each child in your party, with marker if not with ink. Pick an –ology or two on which to focus—you’re definitely not going to see all 3,000 booths, so pick your top 100. Bring a swag bag, because you will find yourself with a lot of brochures and science paraphernalia.
Oh, and none of these:
For the love of Pete, NONE OF THESE. If they can't walk, they can't do science, okay?
Here's hoping Lockheed Martin ponies up for another festival next year, so I can realize my dream of spilling yogurt on Bill Nye the Science Guy.