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Attendance numbers soar at Fairbanks lectures

Submitted by Amy Hartley
Phone: (907) 474-5823


Whether it's learning more about the aurora, or dispelling myths on Alaska wolves, Fairbanksans are eager to learn more when it comes to science. Proof comes from a surge in attendance at the Science for Alaska Lecture Series.

The free public lecture series is an annual event held in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau, and since the 2004 series began last month, Interior lectures have experienced an extreme boost in attendance. The overall number of attendees at the Fairbanks lectures has jumped to more than 2,200. This demonstrates a growth of nearly 30 percent from 2003 attendance numbers. News of the increase has Vicki Daniels, series coordinator at the Geophysical Institute, excited about the overwhelming response.

"The statewide attendance numbers have been strong, but the Fairbanks attendance has skyrocketed," Daniels said. "I think much of the increased attendance can be attributed to offering lecture topics that Alaskans are genuinely interested in learning more about."

So far at the 2004 series, lecturers have shared information on the aurora, Alaska bears and wolves, astronomy and the largest Alaska earthquakes. Attendees are often wowed with colorful images, mini-movies and informative discussion. The multimedia approach to the lectures is drawing participation from all age groups. Many teachers attend the series to earn a continuing education credit, and some offer their students the opportunity to earn extra credit by attending and asking questions. Geophysical Institute Director Roger Smith says the appeal of the 2004 lecture series demonstrates that Alaskans are clearly enthusiastic to know more about the scientific studies conducted in the state.

"This year, the Science for Alaska Lecture Series has gained a significant percentage in attendance, frequently filling the large auditorium in Fairbanks," Smith said. "The University of Alaska and Geophysical Institute are delighted with the response to our lecture series."

The 2004 series will conclude Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Chena River Convention Center. Dr. Matt Heavner, an associate professor of Physics at the University of Alaska Southeast, will present a lecture titled, Lightning and Fire. The lecture begins at 7 p.m.

The Science for Alaska Lecture Series is coordinated and sponsored by the Geophysical Institute and the University of Alaska Foundation. For 12 years, the lecture series has brought scientific research closer to the community by providing these free events to the public.


Vicki Daniels, Science for Alaska Coordinator, UAF Geophysical Institute: (907) 474-6520. Amy Hartley, Information Officer, UAF Geophysical Institute: (907) 474-5823.