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Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates Earth Day with new science festival

Explore the natural world with hands-on experiments, demonstrations at the Unearth Science festival

Gloria Ciaccio 

Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Unearth Science festival

Photo gallery available (credit Chicago Botanic Garden)

Experimental Words teaser video

There’s no better way to learn science than to do science. A new event at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Earth Day weekend will showcase the many ways science is celebrated here every day. 

The Unearth Science festival will feature an abundance of hands-on activities and demonstrations on Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, with a special event on Friday, April 20.

Get up close and personal with science throughout the festival: 

  • Festival programming Drop-in programs, timed demonstrations and free programs abound on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors explore science in fun, interactive ways, like taking a whiff of pollinator-attracting smells at a scent station, learning how to grow potatoes on Mars or seeing how soil can be used to solve crimes. Free events will take place throughout the Garden all weekend; a few require registration. Visitors are encouraged to dig in, have fun and experience science.
  • Experimental Words A scientist and a poet from the United Kingdom teamed up to form Experimental Words and find out what happens when you combine botany with balladry. Watch them facilitate a performance combining a group of Garden scientists and poets from Young Chicago Authors on Friday, April 20, at 8 p.m. in Burnstein Hall. Tickets can be purchased online. Throughout the Unearth Science festival weekend, Experimental Words will also team up with visitors to draw inspiration from the Garden to create a crowd-sourced poem, which will be performed at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Biospheres by Vaughn Bell Surround yourself with a native landscape—literally. Seattle-based artist Vaughn Bell creates immersive terrariums that give an ant’s-eye-view of nature. For the Unearth Science festival, she’s teamed up with Garden scientist Pati Vitt to create Local Homes, which features three threatened ecosystems located near the Garden—bogs, ravines and woodlands.
  • Sky Day Look up and snap a photo of the sky, then tweet it with the hashtag #skydayproject #SkyDayChicago. That’s all you have to do to participate in the Sky Day art project on display at the festival. Submitted photos will be joined together to create a real-time photo mosaic projected onto screens above visitors’ heads in Nichols Hall. Visitors to the Garden will see their shots alongside photographs from Adler Planetarium visitors and friends of the Garden around the world to create this ever-changing art exhibit.
  • Janet Meakin Poor Symposium SciComm: The Art (and Science) of Reaching New Audiences will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 20. Learn from the best science communicators how to best craft messages and deliver content about conservation and biodiversity. Register for the day filled with valuable presentations to get a discount to Friday night’s Experimental Words performance.


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at

Interact with the Garden for this and other Garden events and programs: