Free Weekend Fun: Science, Earth Day Festivals, Spring Football

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You’ll find lots of free fun this weekend, from events associated with the North Carolina Science Festival to a free Carolina spring football game. Enjoy a free Earth Day festival. View entries at the annual birdhouse competition at the JC Raulston Arboretum and let the kids go on a free tour of the arboretum. Head to the Doris Duke Center, at Duke University, for a free drop-in program that offers activities and a take-home craft. Unless otherwise noted, you’ll find details of the following events and more in our Daily Calendar.


The Raleigh Rockin’ Walkin’ Tour, a North Carolina Science Festival event, will kick off at 3 p.m., Friday, offering an hour-long walking tour of the geology of downtown Raleigh. Meet at the Museum of Natural Sciences on the Bicentennial Mall. The tour guide will point out three major rock types that make up the architecture of downtown Raleigh and also delve into North Carolina history.

Math Moves, a science festival event, kicks off at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Museum of Life and Science, in Durham. Immerse yourself in a world of shadows and shapes, motion and sound in the Math Moves exhibition at the museum. Watch your rates of motion tracked on a screen. Listen, watch and feel what happens when you change the pitch and frequency of sounds. Entry to Math Moves is free with a paid museum admission. /

Head to Family Fun Night at the Barnes & Noble, in Cary, at 7 p.m. Friday to meet Clifford the Big Red Dog. See our Daily Calendar for details.


The JC Raulston Arboretum, in Raleigh, will hold its 12th Annual Birdhouse Competition, sponsored by Wake Audubon Society and others. You can see a wide array of birdhouses in both adult and children’s categories Saturday, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free and so are the guided children’s tours of the arboretum on those days. The tours, which run on the hour, will have you looking for birds and discovering their favorite plants for snacking. Saturday tour hours run 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday tours run from 1 p.m.-3 pm.

Head to the University of North Carolina Science Expo, in Chapel Hill, for a free hands-on science festival event from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday. You’ll find activities for all ages, including a “small science” area for kids, a chemistry magic show, professor discussions on a range of science topics and an Ask-A-Scientist booth. Many exhibitors will have hands-on activities exploring things such as robots, volcanoes and DNA, and you can watch fun science performances on stage. For a complete schedule of activities and a map, visit this link. Free parking will be offered throughout campus. See more Science Festival events here.  After the Expo, North Carolina’s first Spring Game will kick off at 3 p.m. at Kenan Stadium. Admission is free.

Are you ready for Robot Rumble? Join the leagues of professionals and enthusiasts in the science of robotics at the Museum of Life and Science, in Durham from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday. Enjoy hands-on demos, workshops, bot hockey and more! Robot Rumble is free with a paid museum admission.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden is offering a special free one-hour tour of its grounds in Chapel Hill starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. Experience the beauty of plants that are native to North Carolina. The tour concludes with a look at carnivorous plants exhibits of the Southeast, including Pitcher Plants, Sundews, and Venus Flytraps. Call 919-962-0522 for information.

Enjoy an Earth Action Day with a 5-K race at Southern Community Park, in Chapel Hill, from noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Dedicated to sustainability, this festival will feature more than 80 environmental exhibitors, live entertainment, interactive activities for all ages, a mARTket showcasing local art and a food pavilion with local foods. See Triangle Events Celebrate Mother Earth for details on this event and other upcoming Earth Day Festivals.

Join children’s author Joan Holub as she presents her newest picture book, Zero the Hero, at Flyleaf Books from 3-4 pm, Saturday. Holub, who lives in Raleigh, has authored and/or illustrated more than 120 children’s books. In her latest book, Zero believes that he is a hero, but the counting numbers think he is worthless until they get into trouble with some Roman numerals, and only he can help.

Head to the Raleigh City Museum for News Media Today, a free program at 2 p.m.  Saturday, to learn more about recent and present-day Raleigh media.Visit the museum’s website at for more information.

In Apex, Follow the Bouncing Ball, offers a counting adventure in English and Spanish, games, prizes and a book-signing by Apex author Derrick M. Eason from noon-2 p.m. Saturday at the Halle Cultural Arts Center. See our Daily Calendar for details on this event for kids ages 3-6.


Marbles Kids Museum, in Raleigh, will host Gadgets and Gizmos: Humpty Dumpty from 1-3 p.m. when you can engineer a protective package to help an egg survive a drop with The Engineering Place, NCSU College of Engineering’s K-20 Outreach Program. The event is free with a paid museum admission

Also at Marbles, Garden Sprouts, starting at 2:30 p.m. Sunday offers hands-on fun with a garden theme. It’s also free with paid Museum admission.

In Durham, Sci-Fi Genre will host the Spring 2012 NC Speculative Fiction Night, featuring local and regional authors, artists, and creators for short readings, talks, and a sci-fi role-playing game demo. The event will run from 5 – 7 pm. Sunday, at Sci-Fi Genre, located at 3215 Old Chapel Hill Rd., in Durham. For details, visit

Boy Scout Troop 39 is sponsoring Touch a Truck Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m., at the University Mall parking lot, located at 201 S. Estes Dr., in Chapel Hill. Climb aboard a cement mixer, fire truck, construction backhoe and lots of other trucks to learn how the equipment works. Enjoy a kids zone featuring bouncy houses and other activities. Proceeds benefit UNC Children’s Hospital’s Promise Grant. Admission is $5 per person, with a maximum of $20 per family. Children under age 2 are admitted free.   The rain date is Sunday, April 22,

Head to a Spring Family Fun, a free drop-in program, from noon-3 p.m. Sunday at the Doris Duke Center, at Duke University, in Durham, to enjoy activities and take-home craft. See our Daily Calendar for details.

The Contemporary Art Museum, in Raleigh, is hosting Family Sunday: A Spring Thing on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.  Triangle-area families are for an afternoon of family-friendly fun. Tour exhibitions, Born Digital and Chris Bradley–Close One, visit the creation station for spring themed hands-on activities and other fun surprises. Family Sunday activities are free with $5 museum admission. Admission is free for children 10 and under, CAM Raleigh Members and NC State University students, faculty and staff.

Upcoming Event: St. Timothy’s School, in Raleigh, will hold the 7th Annual Spring Sprint and 5K Run/Walk & 1-Mile Fun Run on Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m. Proceeds go to benefit the Rotary Club’s Styres Scholarship Fund and WakeMed Children’s Diabetes and Endocrinology. Both adults and children from the school and community take part in the event. The race course winds through the North Hills neighborhood, beginning and ending at the school. The course is certified by USATF. For more information and to register, visit

Headed to the movies? Don’t leave home without checking Jean’s Movie Choices for Kids to see what’s age-appropriate and worth watching with your children.  Read Jean’s review of The movie Deadline, which premieres April 18 in Raleigh, with ticket proceeds going toward The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

Categories: Activities, Early Education, Education, Family Fun, Food + Fun, Green Living, Lifestyle, Preschool Activities, Preschoolers, School Kids, Seasonal, Seasonal Fun, SK Activities, Spring, Things To Do, Tweens and Teens