Philly Science Fest Highlights Overlooked STEM-Water Relationship

What Science Looks Like: Philadelphia Water Department Aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo sampling the health of aquatic wildlife on the Schuylkill River. Careers in science at PWD will be highlighted at this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival.
What Science Looks Like:
Philadelphia Water Department Aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo sampling the health of aquatic wildlife on the Schuylkill River. Careers in science at PWD will be highlighted at this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival
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When you turn on the tap for a fresh glass of Philadelphia water, do you think about all the scientists and engineers who make this daily convenience possible?

If your answer is "no," you're not alone.

But the fact is, science and engineering are a big part of the work we do at the Philadelphia Water Department every day.

From the biologists who monitor our source water (see photo above) to the laboratory technicians at the Bureau of Laboratory Services who sample and test the finished product to ensure safety, we rely on a variety of scientific experts to bring you top-quality water around the clock every day of the year.

We also have environmental scientists studying how climate change will impact our rivers and infrastructure, engineers working to transform waste water into energy, hydrologists fine-tuning green stormwater systems, and more.

That’s why we’re excited to once again be a part of the Philadelphia Science Festival—we want to highlight the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that makes access to clean, abundant water possible and attract young people considering STEM careers to this critical field.

A “nine-day, community-wide celebration of science,” the Philadelphia Science Festival features “lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of other informal science education experiences for all ages.”

During the main festival, PWD and the Fairmount Water Works will take part in the Science Carnival at Penn’s Landing on Saturday, April 29.

A free event “unlike any other,” the Science Carnival boasts “dynamic demonstrations, engaging experiments, geeky games, and electrifying entertainment for the whole family.”

This year, we’ll be in the carnival’s Climate City section.

Stop by to learn about our Green City, Clean Waters program and what we’re doing to protect our rivers and critical water infrastructure from the looming impacts of climate change. What does a hotter, wetter Philadelphia mean for our rivers and creeks? Come to Climate City and find out!

The Science Carnival will take place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, 101 South Christopher Columbus Blvd.

Can’t make either of those events but still want to explore the water-science connection?

We’ve highlighted a few additional events below, including several that explore exciting careers for those interested in protecting our water. We hope you’ll make it!

Explore Careers in Water and Science

Be an Environmental Scientist!

Sunday, April 23
2 p.m.-4 p.m.

Fairmount Water Works,
640 Waterworks Drive

Meet an aquatic scientist, ask questions, and explore how the mighty freshwater mussel is attracting attention for its ability to filter water naturally. See how they grow and learn about the role they play in our river ecology at the new demonstration mussel hatchery.

No reservation required

Price: Free


Be an Ecologist!

Sunday, April 23
11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Independence Seaport Museum,
211 South Christopher Columbus Boulevard

Collect water samples directly from the Delaware River, get your hands messy in the mud, study organisms under a microscope and see a catfish dissection. Ecologists can get dirty, so dress for a mess!

No reservation required

Price: Free with museum admission

Be an H2O-ologist!

Sunday, April 23
1 p.m.-3p.m.

Pier 68 Philadelphia Waterfront,
1751 South Christopher Columbus Boulevard - at the end of Pier 70 Boulevard

The earth is covered in water from big oceans to small ponds. We need it to cook, shower, drink, and much more. Put on a lab coat and explore how water impacts both the animal and human communities of the Delaware River. Attendees will make a lab coat (out of a trash bag), use red cabbage as a pH indicator, explore how waterfowl feathers stay dry (water and oil experiment), sink/float experiments and make their own aluminum boats. Brought to you by the Natural Lands Trust and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

No reservation required

Price: Free

Let’s Go Outdoors: What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors?

This activity, presented by Let’s Go Outdoors, will be available at several locations during the festival. 

Kids are invited to do an experiment that teaches them about water’s properties while learning about the Delaware River as our primary drinking water source and an incredible resource for recreation, nature awareness, and environmental education. 

Stop at any of these spots to get your kids excited about exploring Philly’s watersheds:  

Science in the Park: Clark Park
Saturday, April 22
1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Clark Park, 4398 Chester Avenue

Bring the family to your local park for a day of fun, hands-on activities exploring the extraordinary power of science, technology, engineering, and math! Teach your kids that you don’t have to go far to have fun with science, and discover its joys and wonders together during this family fun day. All Science in the Park events are FREE!

In the event of rain, activities will take place in Alumni Hall at the University of the Sciences, Woodland Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets.

Science in the Park: The Schuylkill Center

Saturday, April 22
10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy's Mill Road

Features What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? from Let's Go Outdoors + additional activities.

No reservation required 
Price: Free


What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? at David Cohen Ogontz Library

Tuesday, April 25
3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
David Cohen Ogontz Library, 6017 Ogontz Avenue

Features What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? from Let's Go Outdoors + additional activities.

Bonus: Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium presents Can You Be A Beach Detective?

No reservation required 
Price: Free

What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? at Joseph E. Coleman NW Regional Library

Wednesday, April 26
3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Joseph E. Coleman Library, 68 W. Chelten Ave

Features What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? from Let's Go Outdoors + additional activities.

No reservation required 
Price: Free

What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? at Greater Olney Library

Wednesday, April 26
3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Greater Olney Library, 5501 North 5th Street

Features What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors? from Let's Go Outdoors + additional activities.

No reservation required 
Price: Free

Science in the National Park

Thursday, April 27
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Independence National Visitors Center, 1 North Independence Mall West

Blow your students away with the connection between history and science as you visit Independence National Historical Park for a day full of FREE hands-on activities in the birthplace of America. Activities are geared to an elementary school audience. Includes What Are (Water) Ways to Go Outdoors?, an activity from the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, and much much more!

No reservation required 
Price: Free

See the full calendar of Philadelphia Science Festival events!