Contestants work a physics problem at the 2008 challenge

Contestants work a physics problem at the 2008 challenge.

Are there just not enough cocktail parties in the world for all the trivia floating around in your head? Don’t let it stagnate, waiting for Jeopardy auditions to circle back to your town or squander it on pub quiz nights. Offer up some of your best science-related gems to the Science Trivia Challenge, an annual competition organized by the MIT Club of Boston for the Cambridge Science Festival. The event will be held April 28, 2010, on campus. Trivia suppliers, however, cannot participate in the event as contestants.

Trivia facts should be geared toward a general audience (no PhDs required) in one of two divisions: Youth (for middle- and high-school students) and Open (for those with introductory college-level science knowledge). Any scientific discipline and topic is fair game, including (but not limited to) biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, computer science, earth sciences, inventions, technology, medicine, history of science, and local contributions to science. Questions can be multiple choice, short answer, or matching.

View sample questions from past events then learn more about the requirements and submit your trivia.

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A demonstration for kids at the 2008 Cambridge Science Festival

At the "Science Comes Alive" event at the 2008 Cambridge Science Festival, MIT Club of Boston member John Dolhun PhD '72 led a group of club volunteers in presenting educational experiments and demonstrations for kids.

We all know it’s good to give back and volunteer in our communities. Here’s a fun way to do just that. The Cambridge Science Festival, a nine-day celebration of science and technology that encourages audience participation and discovery, is currently seeking proposals of lectures, performances, family activities, exhibits, tours, debates, workshops, and any other creative activity for the fourth annual event, held April 24-May 2, 2010. The citywide science extravaganza, the first of its kind in the U.S., showcases Cambridge as a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by making science accessible, interactive, and fun. Think movie or art festival, but for STEM.

Past presenters have offered hands-on origami demonstrations, taught the basics of solar cookery, explored sound through numerous musical instruments, run a mystery game using handheld GPS devices, and helped kids build and launch water-bottle rockets. Festival participants are selected through a curated process, and proposals are judged based on audience appeal, technical feasibility, site availability, and funding. Applicants are encouraged to involve community-based organizations in the planning and production of programs. Proposal deadline is December 12, 2009.

Learn more about the festival and submit proposals.

Robot promoting the Science Trivia Challenge

The MIT Club of Boston hosts its third annual Science Trivia Challenge as part of the Cambridge Science Festival on April 29, from 6:00–9:00 p.m. in the Stata Center’s Kirsch Auditorium (32-123). This team competition challenges contestants on their knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, inventions, local contributions to science, and other subjects. The event will be moderated by renowned MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin.

Register a team of up to five people of any age. But hurry, only eight teams are allowed, and sign-up is first come, first served. High school teams (ages 14-18) are also encouraged for the youth division. Spectators are welcome as are volunteers for the night of the event. Email sciencetrivia@mit.edu if you’d like to help out.

Just to see if you have what it takes to compete, here are two questions from past Science Trivia Challenges.

Round 1 question
The German scientist Alfred Wegner proposed the continental drift hypothesis in 1912. At the time, he suggested that the Earth at one point contained one land mass called “Pangaea.” What was the eleven-letter name he used to describe the single ocean that surrounded this mass?

Round 2 question
The practice of “stratigraphy” would most commonly be used in which of the following scientific fields?
(a)  brain science
(b)  genetics
(c)  meteorology
(d)  paleontology
(e)  quantum physics

View the answers.