Thousands march in downtown Phoenix for evidence-based policy making, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science. Cheryl Evans/azcentral.com
Thousands turned out for Phoenix’s March for Science on Saturday, many wielding signs while pushing strollers or holding hands with their children.
The march was one of more than 600 events held worldwide on Earth Day. Several other Arizona cities also held a March for Science rally, including Flagstaff, Sedona and Tucson.
The theme, according to the event website, was not just science and the politics surrounding it, but “the very real role that science plays in each of our lives.” In Phoenix, that translated into an event focused on kids and education.
Brayden Cluff, 30, is a high-school Earth science teacher in the San Tan Valley. He said it is sometimes a struggle for people to distinguish fact from inaccuracy when debating scientific issues.
“It’s really a struggle not just for high-school students but for everyone to know who to listen to when it comes to these issues that we’re talking about because everyone has an opinion,” he said. “It can be really hard to distinguish the experts from the people who just want to shout loudly. One thing that my dad taught me was truth is truth, and all truth will fit together like a puzzle piece.”
The Phoenix march started at 10 a.m. with a rally and public speakers in front of Historic City Hall. The crowd then marched down Jefferson Street to Fifth Street, up Washington Street and then back to First Avenue. At Washington Street and First Avenue were food trucks, speakers, music and a row of educational booths dedicated to science.
‘Open your eyes to science’
One of the booths, named “Science Rocks,” belonged to 12-year-old Isabel Bartolome and Sebastian Arana. They were teaching others about rocks and gems, like how to decipher the difference between a real turquoise rock and a fake.
“There’s so much more to life if you open your eyes to science,” said Isabel, adding that her love of rocks keeps her on her toes when she’s out in nature. “I can’t go on a hike without picking up like twenty rocks.”
Sebastian said he got into elements in second and third grade, and then started collecting rocks and minerals. When asked why he wanted to participate in the March for Science by having a booth, he said, “We love rocks so we wanted to share our knowledge.”
Parents Michael Grey, 52, and Karen Grey, 45, brought their 4-year-old daughter, Brianna, to expose her to different ideas. They said Brianna loves to make “potions” when she takes bubble baths.
“Bringing her out to see women do science is extremely important, so that she doesn’t pigeonhole herself to the female-oriented job roles,” Michael Gray said.
Both parents said they feel it is their responsibility to teach their daughter the importance of being a good global citizen.
“I think we need to remind everyone that science is what has helped us get this far, like space travel, and that it can takes us that much further if we keep it up,” Karen Gray said.
‘Her planet to live in and take care of’
Jennifer Pauk, 50, and her daughter, Zora, 11, were visiting from Washington, D.C., and decided to attend the march. Pauk said she has taken her daughter to many marches, including the Women’s March on Washington in January.
“Well, she’s gonna be around longer than me and this is gonna be her planet to live in and take care of,” Pauk said.
Zora said she was happy to make her voice heard and participate with her mother in the march.
“It seems like if we are not going to do it, no one is going to do it,” she said.
Phoenix police did not have a crowd estimate for the event. More than 3,000 indicated on the event’s Facebook page that they would attend.
As they walked, many chanted, “Science, not silence.”
Many had made their own signs. Some of the homemade slogans:
- No science, no beer.
- I’d make a protest pun, but I’m not good atom.
- So severe even nerds are here.
- There is no Planet B.
- Up and atom.
- Have you hugged your Higgs boson today?
- Got plague? Yeah, me neither. Thank a scientist.
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