YEREVAN — On October 5-8, 2010, Yerevan, one of Cambridge’s sister cities, held its first science festival. This was inspired by the visit of its organizer Dr. Gayane Poghosyan to observe the Cambridge Science Festival in the spring of 2010. Invited by the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA), her goal was to gain ideas to apply back home. In addition, CYSCA provided partial funding for the Yerevan festival.
Focused on the theme, “Towards a Green Economy,” the festival was held in conjunction with Armenia’s Renewable Energy Week at the Moscow House. The Yerevan Science Festival attracted 4,000 people (2,500 of whom, mostly youth and school children, attended museums on a special day devoted to this). The festival included exhibits showcasing research by academic institutes, universities and professional groups, a conference on “Towards a Green Economy,” additional round-tables, a meeting for students and school children with Radik Martirosyan, president of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, an exhibition and contest of artwork made of recycled materials by students and the museum-visiting day.
With this festival, Poghosyan hopes not only to have promoted interest in science among all ages and sectors of the public, but to provide the basis for Yerevan to network with other cities worldwide about this exciting form of science education. A biologist by training, she is chief specialist specialist of the State Committee of Science of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences.
During her visit, Poghosyan was able to see the nuts and bolts of organizing a science festival event, since CYSCA itself held a panel discussion on the future of fuel cells, inviting a fuel cell expert from Armenia, Agassy Manoukian, CEO of H2Economy to participate, along with three other CEOs of local fuel cell companies — Radha Jalan of ElectroChem, Inc. and Brad Bradshaw, CEO of Hy9 Corporation and Charles Myers, president of Trenergi Corp. and interim president of the Massachusetts Hydrogen Coalition.
Poghosyan was also able to attend meetings with administrators of the Cambridge Science Festival at the MIT Museum, which plays a lead role, and also representatives of other US science festivals who were observing in Cambridge. The MIT Museum has also created the Science Festival Alliance (see www.sciencefestivals.org) along with UCSD, UCSF and the Franklin Institute. This network, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, works to encourage and promote the organization of science festivals both throughout the US and internationally.
Since Poghosyan is also Armenia’s designated point person for Education for Sustainable Development through the UNESCO chair of that name, charged with promoting a sustainable development perspective in the entire educational system in Armenia, while she was in Cambridge she held meetings with environmental educators at area universities and NGOs as well as environmental leaders in Cambridge City Government and teachers in the Cambridge School Department.