Press Release

Jan. 11 is local kickoff of 'Year of Science 2009'

| 07 January 2009

The national celebration of the "Year of Science 2009" has its Bay Area kickoff on Sunday, Jan. 11, with a day of hands-on science activities in San Francisco and the debut of regional and institutional Web sites highlighting science news and a year-long series of science events.

Year of Sciance 2009Among the many sponsors of the Year of Science 2009 is the University of California, Berkeley, which has launched its Science@Cal Web site to draw attention to UC Berkeley scientists, the depth and breadth of their research, and the relevance of that research to society.

At the regional level, numerous organizations within the San Francisco Bay Area have coalesced to form a group called Bay Area Science to coordinate efforts in sharing science with the public. These efforts are reflected in the regional Web site, http://www.bayareascience.org/, which highlights events and activities throughout 2009 in which the public can engage, ranging from science cafés and lectures to hikes and tours.

The Jan. 11 kickoff takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crissy Field Center in San Francisco's Presidio, at the corner of Mason and Halleck streets, in conjunction with "Family Appreciation Day," an annual citywide San Francisco event.

Activities will be organized by Bay Area Science partners, including UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, Museum of Paleontology and Botanical Garden, the California Academy of Sciences, KQED's QUEST science series, Bay Area Discovery Museum, and Youth Radio. On behalf of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, neighborhood liaison Lisa Ang will attend the event and present a certificate to Bay Area Science in recognition of the San Francicsco Bay Area's Year of Science 2009 celebration.

In the South Bay, Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) will kick off the Year of Science celebration with an event for educators - including K-12, early childhood, after school and home school teachers - at 1355 Ridder Park Dr. in San Jose, on Saturday, Jan. 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Year of Science 2009 was conceived by the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) as a way to engage the public in science and improve public understanding about how science works, why it matters and who scientists are. The initiative has fired grassroots efforts in all 50 states, and Bay Area Science is one of 18 regional COPUS hubs.

The national kickoff took place in Boston Jan. 3-7 at a meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

"This is a national effort to engage the public with science and to increase public understanding and appreciation of how science works," said Judy Scotchmoor, assistant director of the UC Museum of Paleontology and a founding member of COPUS. This engagement not only helps individuals make informed and reasoned decisions about science-related policies and personal issues, she said, but also provides the opportunity to share with the broader society the life-enriching perspective that makes science so satisfying.

"The universe is an awe-inspiring place, and science gives us the tools to better understand and appreciate it," she added. "Viewing the world through a scientific lens is an enriching experience."

COPUS hopes to draw the public's attention to science by focusing on monthly themes throughout the year that show "How We Know What We Know." January is about the process and nature of science, while February's focus is evolution, in keeping with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, originator of the idea that life evolves through natural selection. July's theme is astronomy, keying off the International Astronomical Union's designation of 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy and this year's 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope to scan the heavens.

Major sponsors of the Year of Science 2009 and of COPUS are UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the Geological Society of America, the National Science Teachers Association, the Whitman Institute, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.