About the Nebraska Science Festival

For nine days in April, Nebraskans celebrated in what organizers are deeming the first truly statewide science festival.

The 2016 Nebraska Science Festival topped more than 17,600 attendees -- 4,000 more than last year -- who participated in a wide range of activities that stretched from Omaha to Scottsbluff and communities in between.

Between April 15-23, students launched high altitude balloons, built kites, robots and 3D objects, walked through an inflatable heart exhibit, read Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) stories, and took part in planetarium and water shows.

Adults learned the biochemistry of beer making, watched rocket launches, met a stem cell scientist, heard from women in STEM and Art and Design careers, engaged with keynote speaker LeVar Burton of "Star Trek" and "Reading Rainbow" acclaim, and participated in hands-on science activities alongside family and friends.

This year's 88 festival events engaged Nebraskans at 48 participating sites across the state, and in communities including Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, Hastings, Grand Island and Scottsbluff. In contrast, the 2015 festival had 56 events in 36 sites.

"We're thrilled to have had Scottsbluff residents engage in science activities at their own Riverside Discovery Center, making for a truly statewide celebration of science," said SciFest Coordinator Kacie Baum. "We appreciate the enthusiasm of all of our attendees, volunteers, participating sites and exhibitors who share their love of science and hands-on learning."

Among the new activities this year: a statewide social media scavenger hunt, Science Night at Werner Park, a 3D Invent-a-Thon competition and a "Women in STE(A)M" panel discussion.

See video highlights from this year's Science Festival.

View SciFest photos.

The Nebraska Science Festival began in 2013 as an initiative of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which continues to administer the festival with the assistance of a number of organizations and individuals interested in the advancement of science literacy.

The Science Festival is designed to make science accessible, interactive, relevant and fun for kids and adults alike. In addition to UNMC, other sponsors included the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, Nebraska Medicine, Metro Credit Union, West Corporation and media sponsors KETV and the Omaha World-Herald.

Planning already is underway for the 2017 Festival, which will run April 20-29.