MSU Science Festival
Renee Leone has spent her career guiding, teaching, and exploring the wonders of our world with others, first working as a psychotherapist and later as a teacher. Leone was a Montessori directress in 2012, when she approached Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement, about hosting a science festival at MSU. She had visited a science festival at Cambridge, UK, and had been much inspired by that event. Her vision for the MSU Science Festival was clear: Like the Cambridge festival, it had to be a rich multi-day experience, have something for everyone, have broad community support, and be free and open to the public.
The first Festival, held in April 2013, attracted more than 11,000 attendees across 10 days, offered more than 150 unique presentations in a variety of formats, and spanned the science spectrum from astronomy to zoology. It was supported by a wide range of community businesses, local nonprofits, MSU units, and student volunteers.
With Leone’s leadership, the Science Festival has continued to develop each year. Attendance has more than doubled (to over 25,000) since the first event. The Festival now includes activities around the state (such as Statewide Astronomy Night, with more than a dozen participating observatories and planetariums), as well as clusters of satellite events in Detroit and other cities. The 2017 Festival will also benefit from more than 50 community presenters as well as new statewide partnerships.