On Saturday morning, three buses are set to pull out of State College and head for Washington, D.C.
The buses will be filled with Penn State students and professors. They will be old and young. They will have one thing in common.
We Are for Science is organizing the trip on Earth Day to the March for Science, an event that will gather people from all over to celebrate “the very real role that science plays in each of our lives,” according to the march’s website.
The group wants to do much of the same at Penn State.
“It started a week after the (presidential) election,” said Virginia Marcon, a doctorate student in geosciences.
It wasn’t political. It was about representing the best about sciences and working toward common goals, even if it was from different perspectives.
“We wanted to show how diverse and inclusive science can be,” said Helen Gall, who is also working toward her geosciences doctorate.
So they, along with fellow organizer and geosciences undergrad Maddy Nyblade, started to put together a trip to the march.
It began with one bus. That filled in one day. They added a second. That took two days to book. A waitlist turned into a third bus over spring break. As of Thursday, 160 people are set to travel from Penn State for the march, representing almost every STEM field at the university.
It happened with plenty of support. To keep tickets on the bus affordable at $10, the group did some fundraising. The total cost of the trip, $8,900, is being underwritten by private donations, such as one researcher covering the $2,200 cost of one bus and more money from the Graduate and Professional Students Association and the Association of Residence Hall Students.
“And it isn’t just scientists. It’s people who support scientists,” Marcon said. “Not everyone has to be a scientist to think critically.”
This march isn’t all that We Are for Science is doing. They are also preparing for the Central Pennsylvania People’s Climate Day the following weekend in State College, a sister event to the national march.
“I hope people get a sense of inspiration,” Marcon said.