In 2017, CAPS and ABRC, along with the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and the Office of Energy and Environment came together to plan the inaugural West Campus Science & Sustainability Festival (WestFest). This free public event was designed to highlight the research, outreach and sustainability initiatives taking place on The Ohio State University’s West Campus and beyond. Faculty, staff and students from a variety of units across campus, along with a few community organizations, came together to promote STEM with hands-on activities, demonstrations and tours. Our first event was a huge success! Despite some questionable weather, we estimate that more than 400 people attended the four hour event. Thanks to the success of the 2017 event, we have decided to make this an annual affair. We are looking forward to hosting the fifth annual WestFest event this year!
WestFest 2020: A virtual celebration
WestFest is organized through the volunteer efforts of the WestFest Planning Committee. The 2020 Planning Committee consisted of staff from the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC), the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC), the Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS), and the Museum of Biological Diversity (MBD). WestFest 2020 was made possible thanks to grant funding from the Ohio State Energy Partners.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, September 12th, WestFest 2020 was yet another in a long list of events impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Opting to transition to a virtual format in lieu of canceling, the WestFest Planning Committee took on the task of recruiting partners and planning the logistics for a large-scale, virtual public outreach event. The decision was made to limit participation in the virtual event to Ohio State units, with the understanding that when the event returns to an in-person format community partners will be welcomed back. A total of 17 units from across Ohio State came together to make WestFest 2020 a success.
The transition to virtual allowed the event to focus on new audiences and accessibility, with American Sign Language interpreters and live captioning available for each program. As such, the event was marketed not only through the traditional outlets but also to organizations working with the deaf community.
WestFest 2020 took place Monday, September 28th through Saturday, October 3rd. Collectively, the partnering units presented twenty-two virtual programs. The target audience for each program ranged from school-aged children to families and adults. Overall WestFest 2020 reached more than 443 program attendees (program attendee = a single Zoom connection). It is safe to assume that many of the Zoom connections reached more than one individual, so the overall program attendance was likely much higher. WestFest attracted attendees from eight countries, 11 states withing the U.S., and 57 zip codes across Ohio.
WestFest 2021 will run October 11th - 16th. The event will once again be 100% virtual. WestFest 2021 will feature 31 program partners, 25 live events, and a suite of 'watch anytime' videos and content. Thanks to generous support from the Ohio State Energy Partners, the STEM Impact Collaborative was able to assemble and distribute 500 activity kits and 1,000 digital event passports to the Columbus community. See the full schedule and register for programs at https://u.osu.edu/stemimpact/westfest-2021-calendar/.
Want to be a WestFest 2021 Partner?
Do you work in STEM at OSU? Are you a community partner engaged in STEM education? Contact us if you are interested in being a WestFest partner.