Robyn L. Beliveau is the Director of Events at the New York Genome Center.

Whether you are a realist or a dreamer, the World Science Festival is a realm of infinite possibilities that brings wonder and excitement to New York City. The festival blends the sophisticated and the childlike and offers up a diverse array of programs and presentations to appeal to the scientist in all of us.

Events are scattered around the city, showcasing the incredible resources that New York City has to offer, from the 3000-plus seating capacity at the beautiful United Palace Theatre in Washington Heights to the Polytechnic Institute of New York University’s Metrotech Plaza in Brooklyn.

The goal of the festival is to excite and educate the general public on the scientific endeavors that are currently happening, both around the world and right in our backyard. Where else can children of all ages (and adults) encounter the first full-sized, walking, autonomous robot built in the United States?

New York City is one of the most incredible cities in the world – diverse, multicultural – and home to several of the finest academic institutions in the world. And as host to the World Science Festival, NYC endeavors to bring the world of science and its mysteries to more than just the scientific community.

As an employee of the New York Genome Center, I was excited that we were sponsoring the World Science Festival – particularly, the Scientist’s Apprentice Program which sends schools and youth groups to the programs and performances; the program also provides them the opportunity to attend workshops geared towards specific areas of science.

The Festival opened with a family friendly program, “Icarus at the Edge of Time,” written by Brian Greene, who is the co-founder of the World Science Festival, as well as a scientist, author and Columbia University professor. Adapted from Greene’s children’s book, Icarus tells the tale of a teenage boy living aboard a starship who wishes to explore the universe, particularly a black hole the starship encounters. His journey is documented through an incredible futuristic animated display narrated by actor LeVar Burton and accompanied by a live orchestral score written by the renowned Philip Glass and performed by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

Over three thousand people of all ages attended the program, which launched the annual event and set the tone for an incredible four days of programs intended to ignite the public’s passion for science and the never-ending desire for knowledge.

Whether you were interested in how the brain works or want to explore the universe, there was a program for everyone. For the artist, there was an opportunity to hear from Argentinian-born artist Tomás Saraceno and view his exhibit, Cloud Cities, which will be available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until November. For the beer enthusiast, Cheers to Science offered an opportunity to explore how ancient brews were created.

The family-friendly events included an extraordinary array of interactive exhibits and opportunities for people of all ages to engage and explore different areas of science. At Innovation Square, children and adults entered what looked like a black bounce house only to discover they were hurtling through space trying to avoid asteroids and the sun, all in search of the elusive black hole to disappear down.

The World Science Festival also hosted the announcement of the winners of the esteemed $1 million Kavli prizes, recognizing scientists for major advances in nanoscience, neuroscience, and astrophysics. NYGC would like to congratulate Dr. Cori Bargmann, an accomplished neurobiologist from Rockefeller University, on her award for the prize in neuroscience. Rockefeller University is one of NYGC’s Institutional Founding Members, and we were proud to share in Dr. Bargmann’s accomplishment.

If you missed any or all of the festival this time around, you can be sure the World Science Festival will be back next year with more fantastic, fun, and futuristic programs, and it will certainly be interesting to see next year’s program schedule. As for this year, the New York Genome Center was proud to sponsor the World Science Festival and support the students of today who may become the scientists of tomorrow.

About the New York Genome Center

The New York Genome Center (NYGC) is an independent, non-profit organization that leverages the collaborative resources of leading academic medical centers, research universities, and commercial organizations. Its vision is to transform medical research and clinical care in New York and beyond through the creation of what will be one of the largest genomics and bioinformatics facilities in North America.