World Maker Faire NY: Rock-It Science Cabaret

At World Maker Faire NY, taking place on September 25 and 26 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, TalkingScience will present three performances of the Rock-It Science Cabaret, a science variety show featuring scientists and performers illustrating principles of physics, chemistry, and biology. We recently spoke with Ann Marie Cunningham, executive director of the Science Friday Initiative, founded by Ira Flatow, host and executive producer of the Science Friday radio program. Here’s what Ann Marie shared about the upcoming shows.

Science Friday Initiative (SFI) is bringing our popular science variety show, TalkingScience Cabaret, to the Science Stage at World Maker Faire. Since World Maker Faire will be held at the New York Hall of Science, which has a Rocket Park, we are putting on Rock-It Science Cabaret: Battle of the Science Bands. (You can see video of our past Cabarets at

SFI is the nonprofit partner of Science Friday, the live news/talk show about science that is now in its 20th year of broadcast on NPR. SFI works to make science cool for the next generation, starting with middle school, when too many kids turn off to science. Our motto is, “Science is cool.” One way we get that across is by taking popular culture that kids already like, such as live music, and using them as vehicles for science. That’s how TalkingScience Cabaret was born.

Luckily for us, some scientists have formed their own bands, and are writing science songs. And some aspects of theatre acts relate to science very well. For example, flamenco was invented by Gypsy miners in southern Spain. The dance steps imitate the motions of the machines the miners used — so flamenco is a way to learn about physics and simple machines. The Cabaret has been a hit wherever we’ve put it on — science institutions and fairs, clubs, schools.

Rock-It Science Cabaret will be hosted by a young Mexican physicist, Debbie Berebichez. Debbie will conduct a Science Quiz Show with the audience. Winners will be rewarded for coming up with good questions, as well as getting the answers right. In between the musical performances, we’ve invited some scientists to put together some breathtaking demonstrations. In some of them, the audience can take part. They’ll even be able to make some music themselves. We’ll see what our Human Applause-o-Meter says about how well they stack up against the scientists’ bands!

We heard about Maker Faire because Ira Flatow, host/executive producer of Science Friday and founder/president of SFI, is friends with Tim O’Reilly. Ira has been hoping that Maker Faire would come to New York, so we’re delighted to take part. New York is a center of science, and we’re very happy that World Maker Faire will bring that to everyone’s attention.

Ira will be at the World Maker Faire, in the Science Friday booth near the Science Stage. At the booth, we’ll be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, who invented the modern beehive. Before this maker came along, you had to smash a bee hive to harvest the honey — leaving the bees homeless. Besides Ira, Fairegoers can meet beekeepers and some real bees. New York City recently legalized beekeeping — which is something else to celebrate.

We hope that our Rock-It Science Cabaret will convince more kids to study science and become scientists. At the very least, we hope they’ll recognize at World Maker Faire that science is extremely cool!

For a sneak peek into what happens when you mix live music and science, check out this video of TalkingScience Cabaret’s Castaways Cabaret, which opened with The Amygdaloids, a rock band of neuroscientists from NYU, who will also be at Maker Faire. Clever science demos follow!

And for all the information you need to attend, including how to buy tickets online, check out the World Maker Faire NY site.

Top video graphics by the BB Group.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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