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Scientists/Exhibitors wanted for Virginia Tech Science Festival 2020 Meetups

Exhibitor agreement

• The person submitting this form on behalf of the Organization represents and warrants that he/she has the necessary power, consent and authority to agree to the terms of participation in the Virginia Tech Science Festival. By submitting this form, Organization acknowledges receipt of and accepts the Virginia Tech Science Festival Terms and Conditions.

• Exhibitors not affiliated with Virginia Tech must provide a certificate of insurance. Certificates must have a minimum general liability coverage amount of $500,000 per occurrence. The certificates must name “Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University” and the “Commonwealth of Virginia” as additional insured, and include the organization name, event date(s) and location(s) in the description area. Sample insurance certificate. A higher coverage amount or additional types of insurance (automobile, etc.) may be required based on the circumstances of the individual event.

• Festival organizers may reject events that are determined to be excessively commercial. Festival organizers reserve the right to reject any event for any reason.

• Festival exhibits must be a high entertainment, hands-on and interactive experience that promotes science (Not applicable for 2020 festival).

• Festival exhibits must be set-up between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.; exhibit must be completely removed by 5:00 p.m., with tear-down beginning once the Festival ends at 4:00 p.m.

• The promotion and display of firearms, tobacco or pornography is strictly prohibited.

• During the hours of the Festival (10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) the exhibit must be staffed at all times (Not applicable for 2020 festival).

• Any significant changes to Festival Day exhibit plans must be communicated to Phyllis Newbill at least one month prior to Festival Day.

• To the extent permitted by law, the Organization agrees to release the Virginia Tech Science Festival, its sponsors, participating venues, and their respective officers, agents, employees, and volunteers from all claims for personal injuries, property damage or theft arising in any manner in connection with the Organization’s participation in the Virginia Tech Science Festival. The Organization further agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Science Museum of Western Virginia for any injury or damages to any other person caused by the Organization’s negligence or intentional acts or inactions during the festival, to the extent allowable by law.

• Festival organizers may modify the festival rules and terms and conditions at any time.

Do you have amazing and fascinating science to share with learners? It's time to do the 2020 Virginia Tech Science Festival. 

The COVID edition of the Virginia Tech Science Festival maintains safe, two-way conversations between scientists and learners by hosting teleconferenced Meetups between learner groups and scientists before the official festival date. Edited videos of these teleconferences will be unveiled to the public on the festival day. 

If you'd like to participate, but aren't sure whether you fit, feel free to reach out. Science is bigger than you think. Science is a way of thinking and includes social sciences, arts about science, science about arts, humanities based on data, business based on data, and much more. This is an opportunity to show our community the breadth and depth of the work we do at Virginia Tech. 

Meetups happen between September 1 and October 31. We’ll begin scheduling on August 25. The Meetup requests form closes September 30. Meetups should take about 30 minutes, during which time our host will introduce you to the learners, you share a demonstration or quick spiel, and learners will have the chance to ask questions. When the Meetup ends, your commitment is complete. 

We'll take care of connecting you with learners, hosting the meetup, editing the video, and evaluating the event. You just bring your enthusiasm, your science, and your willingness to have two-way conversations with learners. 

Some guidelines when you are ready to participate: You'll need

• A title. This exhibit name will identify your project on the festival webpage. It must be 75 characters or less, including spaces. It should be exciting and informative. It should not have your organization name in it or end with an exclamation mark. ("Boring!" is still not exciting.)

• One person on your team who will receive emails about the event.

• A description of your program/exhibit in 500 characters or less. 

• An image to represent your project.

• To connect your exhibit/program to something regular people can understand.

• To connect your exhibit/program to careers.

• To design an experience that allows learners to interact in some way. Lectures are for another day. Plan for your experience to take about 20 minutes, with 5 minutes at the beginning for setup and 5 minutes at the end for questions and wrap-up. 

• To identify some questions you hope learners will ask you.

• To identify some dates that will work for you. To start with, we are scheduling these events on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 and 4:00. If you need to present at a different time, let us know. 

We will begin scheduling Meetups on August 25. Apply by then for top consideration. Scientist applications close September 30. Please let us know you're interested by completing the Meetup form. We'll also need information about your team members. Each person on your team should complete the exhibitor/volunteer form.

Questions? Email us at

Exhibitor timeline

August 10
Applications open

August 25
Scheduling begins

September 1 - October 31

September 30
Applications close

November 7
Festival day - videos unveiled on the VTSF website

Exhibitor workshops

Stay tuned for information about workshops on:

Working with children

Reimagining diversity

Working with learners with autism

Communicating science 


There is no fee to exhibit. We encourage your organization to consider becoming a sponsor.

See Exhibitor Agreement.

No. The primary mission of the Virginia Tech Science Festival is to educate and entertain our festival visitors, and we want the focus of the exhibits to be interactive activities. As a result, festival policy prohibits all exhibitor/vendor sales at our event. However, the festival is a great way for organizations of all types to introduce themselves to the region. Exhibitors are welcome to distribute free promotional materials and also to direct festival visitors to their organizations and websites for off-site giving or purchasing opportunities. Please refrain from passing out candy and extraneous flyers, as they lead to litter.

Yes, a few. The promotion and display of firearms, tobacco, or pornography is strictly prohibited. We may reject exhibits that are determined to be excessively commercial. We reserve the right to reject any exhibit for any reason.

If you make any significant changes to Virginia Tech Science Festival exhibit plans, please notify Phyllis Newbill at least one month prior to festival day.

Contact Phyllis Newbill.

The following are FAQs for typical, non-COVID years.

You may exhibit at the Virginia Tech Science Festival and any or all of the affiliated events. Just let us know on your exhibitor application .

About 5000 people typically attend the Blacksburg festival. Visitors include families with young children, Virginia Tech students, community members, other exhibitors, and dignitaries. Not every festival visitor visits every exhibit.

Your exhibit will need a hook and an experience. For your hook, think of what at your space will attract festival goers. Things that move, make sound, or ask intriguing questions will help attract participants. Then provide a hands-on experience that teaches a science concept or skill.

Check the exhibitor application for information about workshops for exhibitors.

Be sure your exhibit is appropriate for children of all ages. Some very young children attend, so set fragile objects out of reach. Think about how your message will be different for a 4-year-old and a 14-year-old.

Prepare a handout that can be distributed to educators or learners who want to do more. Also, browse Before the festival day, let your community know you'll be there by using the #VTSciFest hashtag and linking to the Virginia Tech Science Festival Facebook page in your social media networks.

You may not hang posters on the walls at the Moss Arts Center. You’ll need to bring an easel, attach your poster to your table, or find a different way to send your message.

Yes. Unless your organization is part of Virginia Tech, you will need to provide this document from your insurance company. For Virginia Tech Science Festival,Certificates of Insurance must have a minimum general liability coverage amount of $500,000; the certificate must list "Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University" and the "Commonwealth of Virginia" as additional insured; and the certificate must include the organization name, event date(s) and location(s) in the description area. A higher coverage amount or additional types of insurance (automobile, etc.) may be required based on the circumstances of the individual event.


Certificates of Insurance must be submitted by October 30, 2019. If the certificate is not received by the Virginia Science Festival staff, the exhibit cannot occur. For a sample insurance certificate, see (PDF). Contact your insurance agency for more information.

Yes. Someone must staff your exhibit at all times that the event is open. As you make staffing arrangements, be sure to allow time for rest and food breaks for your team. Some exhibitors tell us they wish they had had time to see the rest of the festival. Keep this in mind as you schedule your people too.

Generally, exhibits get a 6-foot table and 2 chairs, but feel free to be creative. Roving exhibits and mascots are fun. Outdoor exhibit spaces are available at the science festival. Please let us know what you need. Costs may apply for larger spaces or additional materials. If you want to display a poster, you’ll need to bring an easel, attach your poster to your table, or find a different way to send your message; posters may not be attached to walls. Additional rules apply for inflatables, generators, water, amplified sound, flying objects, flammable materials, fire, and other special situations.

Maybe. Let's talk. Contact Phyllis Newbill.

Maybe. Power availability depends on the location of your exhibit. If your exhibit can't work without power, be sure to note that on your application. There are a number of prime locations that do not have power available. There are also spaces that have power nearby for recharging, but not at the site. There is wireless internet access available to Virginia Tech affiliates inside the Moss Arts Center, Newman Library and Torgerson Hall. Guest wireless access can be obtained for you if you need it. Data coverage from most cell phone service providers is strong in Blacksburg. Check your service provider's map.

Load-in begins at 8:00 AM on Saturday and must be complete by 9:30 AM. Load-out begins at 4:00 PM and must be complete by 5:00 PM. If you have special logistical needs, please contact Phyllis Newbill.

The Virginia Tech Science Festival is a rain or shine, hot or cold, windy or calm event. There are limited rain contingency locations indoors outdoor exhibits. Some exhibits may have to be cancelled in the event of a monsoon.

No. Feedback from previous events taught us that kids and families need us to keep the festival together.

Yes! For the Roanoke STEAM event, contact Don Pizzullo. There are many other outreach events throughout the year at Virginia Tech and at the Science Museum of Western Virginia. Watch your inbox for more opportunities. Contact Phyllis Newbill if you have specific outreach needs.