Melinda Pahl: Coordinator of North Bay Science Festival urges families to enjoy upcoming festivities
Like a shining thread, a fascination with science weaves through Buck Institute volunteer Melinda Pahl’s life. Pahl, coordinator of the North Bay arm of the upcoming Bay Area Science Festival (BASF), vividly recalls her 12-year-old self “stomping through creeks on Long Island. I would tie a piece of baloney to a string, leave it in the water overnight, retrieve it, and put it under my microscope.”
As a teacher in the ’70s, she delighted in leading pupils in fun experiments. During a second career in corporate marketing, Pahl exercised creativity outside the office by developing her talent for botanical art, which is “really scientific illustration.” With the BASF, the threads of her life – education, corporate organization, and love of science – are coming together.
The BASF, co-sponsored by the Buck, will run Oct. 29 through Nov. 6 and will feature 100 events throughout the area. The local highlight will be the North Bay Discovery Day at Infineon Raceway on Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Festival activities will be free and families are encouraged to attend together. With as many as 40 exhibits, kids will have opportunities to build catapults and airplanes, use liquid nitrogen to make ice cream, play with robots, extract DNA, and go on a GPS-based “hunt.” The goal: to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.
“It takes a whole family to get a kid into college,” Pahl said. “If a mother sees how science makes her daughter’s eyes light up she is likely to help her daughter get the preparatory classes she needs."
As the festival draws near, Pahl has raised her volunteer hours from eight to 30 a week, “and I’m loving it.” Coordinating with business owners, community leaders, and Buck Institute staff – including Jennifer Rodrigues and Linda McDougal – is “meaningful,” she said. “I’m especially thrilled to be working with the Buck.”