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Written by:  Lauren Townsend
Date: April 1, 2012

Spend 24 hours with nature at the grand opening of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center. The opening ceremony begins at 5 p.m. April 20, and continues through 5 p.m. April 21.

The new 80,000-square-foot wing will be open for tours immediately following the opening ceremony. Visitors can explore all three of the center's investigative labs, doing hands-on research and helping scientists collect data in the Citizen Science Center. Find a full schedule and information about the Nature Research Center at the museum's website.

In conjunction with the opening of the new wing, the public will also get a look at four of the largest emeralds ever discovered in North America, an anonymous gift to the museum.

The North Carolina Science Festival runs from April 13-29, offering local events that include walking tours, speaker presentations and hands-on activities for both kids and adults. This festival has something for everyone — and many of the events are free.

Don't miss "An Evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson" on April 26, one of the festival's signature events. The astrophysicist and host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS will present "Ten Things Everybody Should Know About the Universe" at 7:30 p.m. in UNC-Chapel Hill's Memorial Hall. Ticket prices range from $18-52 and are available for purchase at http://memorialhall.unc.edu. Find out more about North Carolina Science Festival events being held in the Triangle area at www.ncsciencefestival.org.

Farther afield, take a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the USA Science & Engineering Festival April 28-29. The free two-day science expo includes more than 500 booths and exhibits and a book fair. Have your Magic School Bus books signed by series author Bruce Degen, watch a cooking demonstration with bugs or climb into an F-22 Cockpit Demonstrator and ride on the BioBus while playing with microscopes. For more information about the expo visit www.usasciencefestival.org.



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