Past Festivals

North Carolina Science Festival premiered in September 2010 as the first statewide science festival in the United States. 

Todd Boyette and Denise Young, leaders in science education from Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, developed the initial plans for the Festival. Together with other Morehead staff members and business, education and government leaders, they raised funds, recruited event hosts across the state, built an infrastructure for the Festival, promoted hundreds of events and drew favorable reviews from more than 77,000 North Carolinians - all within about 10 months.

Fast-forward a few years, and the North Carolina Science Festival is an established annual celebration in our state - to date, more than 3,000,000 people have participated in Festival programming. The Festival is also recognized as one of the nation's leading science festivals. Here's how we achieved that:

2023 Festival:

The 2023 Festival celebrated the intersection of the arts and sciences with the theme, Full STEAM Ahead.

Learn more here: 2023 Final Report (pdf)

2022 Festival:

The 2022 Festival saw the return of large-scale, in-person celebrations that had been missing for more than 2 years. 

Learn more here: 2022 Final Report (pdf) and 2022 Digital Impact Report

2021 Festival:

The 2021 NCSciFest wasn’t the one we envisioned. It was better. The NCSciFest team listened to our partners, adapted, and did what we always do—found ways to celebrate the incredible homegrown talent and science energy in our amazing state.

Learn more here: 2021 Final Report

2020 Festival:

The global pandemic forced us to cancel in-person events, but the 2020 NCSciFest went virtual, with hundreds of live online events and hands-on activities to do at home.

Learn more here: 2020 Final Report

2019 Festival:

With record participation from the state's public schools and events in 96 counties, the 2019 NC Science Festival celebrated homegrown science in spectacular fashion.

Learn more here: 2019 Final Report

2018 Festival:

In 2018, the Festival expanded the celebration to run the entire month of April, resulting in record numbers of participants.

Learn more here: 2018 Final Report

2017 Festival:

For the first time ever, all 100 counties in North Carolina held events as part of the Festival.  The Festival also launched a new initiative, IMPACTS, to train scientists around the state in public outreach.

Learn more here: 2017 Final Report

2016 Festival:

Among the year's highlights is a partnership with North Carolina State Parks, celebrating their 100th anniversary by hosting a Festival event in every park.

Learn more here: 2016 Final Report

2015 Festival:

In its fifth year, the Festival welcomed its one-millionth participant and its first-ever $1,000,000 endowment.

Learn more here: 2015 Final Report

2014 Festival:

This year, the Festival expanded its support for event hosts and other affiliates though several new initiatives: an event sponsorship program to provide financial support, a series of webinars to share best practices and a marketing assistance program to foster expanded media coverage in targeted locations. The Festival also earned national recognition when it was selected as one of four science festivals to collaborate on a National Science Foundation sponsored project.

Learn more here: 2014 Final Report

2013 Festival

The Festival introduced its Statewide Star Party, with skywatching sessions held simultaneously at more than 40 different sites across the state. The Festival featured special appearances by kitchen scientist Alton Brown in Durham and in Charlotte.

Learn more here: 2013 Final Report

2012 Festival

The Festival marked its return with more events, more locations and many, many more people! The Festival featured special appearances by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in Chapel Hill and by "MythBusters" Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman in Charlotte. Festival co-founder Todd Boyette was named as a leader of the National Science Foundation-funded "Science Festival Alliance" project, which expanded the science festival concept to other cities and states nationally.

Learn more here: 2012 Final Report

2010 Inaugural Festival

The first-ever North Carolina Science Festival introduced children and adults across the state to an exciting celebration of all things science! The Festival featured a special appearance by "MythBusters" Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman in Chapel Hill.

Learn more here: 2010 Final Report

Making A Difference

How do we know that North Carolina Science Festival is making a difference in the lives of North Carolinians? Thanks to generous sponsorship from North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, the Festival has been able to contract with Dr. Karen Peterman, a leading expert on science festival evaluation, to identify the impact of the Festival. Each year, she sits down with the Festival team to execute a statewide evaluation strategy.