Science festival “Spaceship Earth” is an annual event in Lithuania. Over the years, the science festival has become the largest science-promoting event in the country, spreading over more than 10 cities and districts. Every September, more than 30,000 participants visit various events (lectures, demonstrations, excursions, exhibitions). Participants during the festival can visit all main universities (almost 100 of them are hosting Kaunas University of Technology), high technology companies: TEVA / Sicor Biotech, Thermo fisher Scientific Baltic, Ekspla laboratories, other business enterprises and museums. Children of all ages, schoolchildren and families participate in science festivals that accompany the Science Festival in the open air in Vilnius and Kaunas. Every year at the festival lectures are read by renowned scholars from various foreign countries: the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy.
“The idea of the festival was born back in 2004 when I met Secretary General Peter Rebernik of the European Science Events Association, who at that time visited the Baltic States. He asked me why no one in Lithuania organizes such scientific festivals that take place in other countries of the world. This is a sufficiently old tradition. I decided, it would be interesting to hold such a celebration. I initially visited some of these events abroad. After that, we talked with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania - it provided funding. So the first festival took place. The idea of the “Spacecraft Earth” festival was highly evaluated by the scientific community and various technology companies. Therefore, it still exists, constantly growing,” says the initiator of the festival, Rolandas Maskoliunas.
The name of the “Spacecraft Earth” festival is not coincidental. Earth is a cosmic body flying through cosmic space - like a spaceship. People investigate the environment where they fly, and at the same time their “spacecraft”. The space themes in the Festival have always been very popular. The theme of aliens is very popular at the festival - why cannot we ever see them. Scientists also share their experiences about difficulties in finding some solutions with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) but Lithuanians succeed. It is not by chance that these themes of the space are in the spotlight of the festival. Space is primarily technologies that are applied on Earth for a variety of practical purposes. When people in Lithuania ask the purpose of space for Lithuania, it is to be understood that it is primarily navigation (GPS), more precise weather forecasts, security systems, mobile communication, various unique materials – we have all of this only due to technologies created for space and its investigation.
“To organize a science festival was not easy at that time, because the society, the teachers did not quite understand the purpose of the event, to whom it was intended. Many people associate science with something complex, uninteresting, and serious. Although “Spacecraft Earth” is for everyone, the focus is currently on schoolchildren of different ages. Moreover, one of the main priorities of Lithuania and Europe is to encourage young people to choose the professions of scientists or engineers. This would help to overcome another problem - to reduce youth unemployment in Europe,” shared his considerations the initiator of the idea.
Image: (C) Evaldas Šemiotas.
During the year, a lot of events take place in the field of science abroad. Therefore, it is especially difficult to select and invite all the intended speakers to this event. It is greatly appreciated that the festival has partners such as the British Council, which invited such famous people as a paleontologist and professor of Trilobite Richard Fortey or meteorite expert prof. Monica Grady as key speakers at the festival “Spacecraft Earth”. In the past year, the BBC journalist, scientific film producer Chris Riley presented his film “In the Shadow of the Moon” in Kaunas. This year, the Polish Institute in Vilnius also contributed significantly to the program. The exhibits from the Warsaw Copernicus Science Centre have arrived to grand event of the festival which was held in Kaunas.
The program of the festival includes over 300 free events in six cities of Lithuania. The biggest Lithuanian universities actively participate, organizing international science fairs in their cities during the festival. During the fair, visitors can experiment not only in university laboratories, but also in mobile bio-classes, inspect a police car, learn fire extinguishing, provide first aid, see unmanned aircrafts, nano-satellites, visit interactive exhibitions of optical illusions, mobile planetarium, test psychological stands, logical and scientific intellectual games, ship navigation simulator, etc. The festival occurs annually in the second week of September. For more information see: www.mokslofestivalis.eu.