March for Science in Milwaukee rallies support for science education on Earth Day

The March for Science in Milwaukee will bring together concerned citizens and environmental advocates on Earth Day to stand in support of science education and informed public policy.

Elizabeth Ferris, head of social media for the march’s planning group, says they expect more than 1,000 people to show up on Saturday. While the event will draw attention to issues of science literacy this weekend, she says organizers plan to keep the ball rolling by forming a new group: Milwaukee Area Science Advocates.

“Right now, we’re in the brainstorming stages,” Ferris said about MASA. “We’re seeing who is volunteering that will want to move on with the group.”

MASA will host a kick-off event in June, the first in a series of educational events Ferris says they’re considering at the moment. While the group aims to influence public policy, she says it will keep its focus on education.

“We are advocating for evidence-based decisions in government policy, but more so we are here to support and engage with the community in the areas of science education, public health, and environmental sustainability,” said Jason Kern, head of media relations for the march coordination team.

“We want to have a focus on being involved in community, with citizens — getting them a knowledge base of how science affects them,” Ferris added.

She said MASA is considering clean-up efforts and science workshops for potential future events, and also could host online webinars, lecture-style science videos, and informative articles at its site.

But Milwaukee isn’t the only place where groups are capitalizing on the momentum of these marches to increase educational impact.

Other science marches are occurring across the country this weekend, with large turnouts expected at the national mall in Washington D.C. There, the Earth Day Network is using an app called Whova to coordinate “teach-ins,” where participants can learn about specific scientific issues from experts and ask questions — all while taking part in a decades-old tradition.

The first “teach-ins” took place on the very first Earth Day in 1970, and helped to initially spread the word about environmental activism.

Topics for these mini-lectures include “Biology Fortified: Plants with Superpowers,” “Defenders of Wildlife: The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be,” and “Princeton University Press: Communicating Science in a Politicized World.”

Milwaukee’s March for Science will start and end at Red Arrow Park, near City Hall. The rally is at 2 p.m. and the march starts an hour later.

Speakers for the march include Nabeel Quryshi, first place winner of the all-state Badger State Science and Engineering Fair; Dr. Janis Eells, biomedical sciences professor at UW-Milwaukee; Joey Zocher, co-founder of Milwaukee public charter school Escuela Verde; and Mike Ballo, student and president for the RE-volv Solar Ambassador Project at UW-Milwaukee.

–By Alex Moe