This year was our fifth year attending Texas A&M’s Physics Festival. We first learned of it when our son was in Kindergarten when we first joined Texas Parents of Profoundly Gifted (TPPG). TPPG’s big annual gathering is at Texas A&M Physics Festival. TPPG opens their special gathering to other DYS (Davidson Young Scholars) and PGR (Profoundly Gifted Retreat) families. The Physics Festival itself is open to the public on Saturday but TPPG works with physics and math department to have a whole weekend of special activities in conjunction with Physics Festival. There are private tours and special Q&A sessions with various university officials, professors, and guest speakers.
In addition, on the main Physics Festival day, our group has a special luncheon with a guest lecturer. Some years it’s math professors leading the kids in math puzzles or a physics professor holding a discussion on a current physics issue in the news. This year it was the famous cosmologist Sean Carroll. The other bonus of having lunch upstairs with the Physics Department is that our kids get to hang out with other PG kids, sometimes college students, and sometimes college professors. The room is solid chalkboard on 2 sides and the kids are allowed to freely draw or write out math problems. It is always interesting to see what they come up with.
Ever since the first Physics Festival, our son does not want to miss a single one. When picking dates for our Germany trip, he made it very clear he did not want to miss Physics Festival. For him, it is the science event of the year. It is like the big game for sports fans. In addition, our son doesn’t want to miss an exhibit. Now that we are on our 5th year he is starting to skip some things so he can spend more time at others but he still does walk past every area. In fact, we are there from the time it starts until it ends. Actually, we are usually there a bit early as he likes talking with the students and professors during set-up. He wakes up early, he is ready for us to go quicker than any other morning, he wants us to have the shortest driving route, and he knows the closest parking spot is by the bank across from the physics building.
As a parent, this event is special because our son is truly himself and among his “tribe” for a whole day. We know our child is not “normal” but for a day, he blends in with all the other PG kids from our group and is truly himself with the college students and professors. Outside of this event, he doesn’t have access to people who can answer his questions easily, show him scientific equipment most people never see, share his interests or passions, and give him the opportunity to freely engage with college students and professors. It is because of Physics Festival that we have sought out any other special events at colleges as well as visiting college campuses when traveling. In addition, he has even had family member arrange private tours of other university labs and engineering departments.
Physics Festival is also a great event on its own. There are 100’s of science demonstrations and exhibits that are all interactive. The college students will help out children of all ages. We even see 3-year-olds having fun! Every year there is a current or former NASA astronaut there. And, there are always lectures and science shows that are open to the general public. We have been to some other university events and open houses but for our family, this is the favorite. We also know that next year we will start staying overnight with the other TPPG, DYS, and PGR families so we can enjoy the special events the whole weekend with them.
To learn more about Physics Festival, check out the TAMU website and watch some of their own videos:
To find a US Science & Engineering Festival near you please check out their link. The big festival is in DC but there are events all across the world every year. It really is a wonderful way to bring science to the students of all ages. Whether your child is gifted or not, I am sure they will enjoy any of these science festivals.