Mon, 06/01/2020 - 02:28 pm (MDT) By ebroberg

For 11 years, Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) has hosted Neutrino Day, the region’s largest free science festival on the second Saturday of July. This annual event is the highlight of our year, as we open our doors to our community and celebrate science and discovery.

This year, we couldn’t imagine breaking tradition. Our team has been hard at work transforming our citywide science festival into a completely virtual event. Speakers, live chats with scientists, hands-on activities, Native American activities, Science Steve, contests and facility tours—everything you’ve come to love about Neutrino Day will be available via our online Neutrino Day hub.

“During this very challenging time, Sanford Lab remains committed to carrying out our mission to advance science through education and public outreach,” said Mike Headley, executive director of Sanford Lab. “We are very excited to present Neutrino Day in this new and innovative way and invite people to join us for our virtual event.”

What’s better than a single Neutrino Day? A whole week of Neutrino Day! With our bursting agenda—and a whole new way to present Neutrino Day—we couldn’t possibly squeeze this event into one day. This year, we are here all week! Sanford Lab is pleased to invite you to Neutrino Day: A Matter Mystery the week of July 6-11.

Visit our Neutrino Day hub.

Matter Mysteries

In 2020, Neutrino Day: A Matter Mystery will celebrate the countless mysteries scientists investigate each day. Throughout the week, Brian Malow, our headliner and Earth’s premiere science comedian, will host conversations with scientists and dig into some of the universe’s the most elusive mysteries.

What happened just milliseconds after the Big Bang? Why does matter exist? What keeps massive, swirling galaxies from ricocheting into space? How will the universe come to an end? Malow’s discussions with scientists will dive into the implications of these questions throughout the week in our “A Matter Mystery” series.

“Neutrino Day focuses on exploring and—we hope—unraveling the mysteries of the universe,” said Constance Walter, communications director at Sanford Lab. “Brian’s series may not answer all of our questions, but it certainly will give us a better understanding of why we should care about unraveling those mysteries.”

On Saturday, July 11, Malow will add some levity to Neutrino Day —and, perhaps give us something to think about—with his stand up special, “Just Add Gravity!” For our Neutrino Day finale, Malow will weave together his thoughts on unity and division, Pangea and dark energy, bringing the universe down to Earth.

See our full speaker line up.

Something for everyone

Neutrino Day is for curious minds of all ages. And for the first time ever, anyone, from anywhere, will be able to participate this year without traveling to Lead!

For k-12 students

Each day, following our “A Matter Mystery” science talk, interactive activities will help students dive deeper into the matter mystery discussed that morning.

“Our activities for kids are designed for K-12 educational outreach; however, our activities are enjoyable and engaging for kids of all ages—even kids at heart,” said Deb Wolf, director of Education and Outreach (E&O) at Sanford Lab.

Kids of all ages can watch “Science Steve” Rokusek’s engaging science demonstrations. A South Dakota Public Broadcasting education specialist, Rokusek makes science fun for audiences of all ages with humorous demonstrations that bring to life the laws of physics, chemistry, anatomy and more.

We have two competitions for k-12 students. During our Bad Science Joke Faceoff, students can submit their best (or worst) science joke in our Bad Science Jokes Faceoff for a chance to win a 30-minute Zoom interview with a Sanford Lab scientist. Through our K-12 Investigator Challenge, students can enter to win a Neutrino Day Prize pack, unlock the Future Neutrino Scientist badge and take the Future Neutrino Scientist pledge. 

For general audiences

Neutrino Day will also feature virtual facility tours and talks on culture, art, geology and engineering.

Step inside Sanford Lab with virtual tours of the Davis Campus on the 4850 Level, the Yates Hoistroom and the Wastewater Treatment Plant. As an added bonus, get a virtual tour of SNOlab, a neutrino laboratory in an active nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada.

Celebrate our region's rich heritage by learning traditional Dakota and Ojibwe games with Jeremy Red Eagle, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Red Eagle has worked with Native American youth from all over Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota for more than a decade. He incorporates traditional values and history into his lessons on traditional native games and other cultural activities.

Sanford Lab’s first-ever artist in residence, Gina Gibson, will reveal her online-only exhibition “SEEKING the UNSEEN.” She will discuss her multimedia pieces, inspired by her residency at Sanford Lab, during her Virtual Art Exhibit Reception on Tuesday, July 7.

Learn more about the Black Hills geology that makes underground science possible with Bill Rogentheen, professor at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, as he discusses the geology of the Open Cut.

Learn more about engineering for big science during the 3D Virtual Tour of Underground Excavation. This tour will include an updated 3D fly-through of the underground Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) based on the final design with some level of rendering of the finishes to bring it a bit closer to what it might actually look like.

See our full agenda.

Need a roadmap?

With dozens of activities, this year’s event could seem a little overwhelming. Thankfully, our website’s design makes it easy to search events by time, category and age group. We also have downloadable Investigator Notebooks to help K-12 students get the most out of Neutrino Day.

Still have a few questions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page on our Neutrino Day website or contact CWalter@sanfordlab.org.

Thank you to our sponsors

Neutrino Day is made possible through donations from our generous sponsors.

See our full list of sponsors.