Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three -- and Westerville Partners for Education will welcome you into a world of pure imagination at Starry Night 2018.

The free family festival will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. April 8 at Westerville North High School, 950 County Line Road.

It's geared toward art and science fueling the imaginations of students in preschool through eighth grade and their families.

Stephanie Henderson, president of Westerville Partners for Education, said the theme for Starry Night 2018 is Citizen Art and Science.

"We are encouraging participants to look at the art and science in their everyday lives," she said. "Art and science are all around us, and we often don't notice or we take them for granted.

"We have more exhibitors than ever and look forward to some tried-and-true experiences and some new ones to ignite imaginations both young and old," Henderson said.

Jack Brown, event co-chairman, said Starry Night would feature more than 65 hands-on activities for students and their families that could help them discover a life-long interest.

Brown said there is a tremendous increase in participation from Nationwide Children's Hospital partner departments, including one department which will show how virtual-reality glasses/environments are being used to help children manage pain.

"We will have a number of medical-themed activities which will have students actually go through some training on simple procedures," he said.

Based on this year's theme of citizen science, Brown said, families would be provided with the tools to contribute scientific observations of value to the community.

"Working with the city of Westerville GIS department, we are rolling out a Community Tree Collection app which allows students to make and record observations of tree species found in the area, and have these patterns displayed on a publicly available web map," he said.

"We are also planning to show families how to conduct noise/sound maps, investigate bird populations, and to monitor wetland environmental qualities," he said.

The event's robotics area also has been expanded and will feature a group of Westerville South High School students, showing families how to design and make origami-inspired soft robotic muscles and grippers from inexpensive household materials.

An early version of what they will be doing can be viewed online at youtu.be/xmJChOmvtMA.

An augmented-reality sandbox that was featured in last year's event has been made a travelling educational tool by moving to a new school each month.

"It's a regular sandbox coupled to a computer projector and camera," Brown said. "The camera knows where the sand is, and the camera tells the computer what to project on it."

Brown said the basic idea is to capture some of the best ideas that come out of Starry Night and make them available on a wider basis.

"We will also be featuring some additional augmented-reality activities that will be quite engaging," he said. "We will also have a number learning experiences around skilled crafts and trades as well as our traditional arts activities."

More information can be found at westervillepartners-foreducation.org.

Westerville Partners for Education volunteer coordinator Lori Jung said organizers would welcome volunteers to fill 100 slots for the event.

"We need general volunteers and certainly welcome community support," she said. "People can visit the Starry Night 2018 event on the westervillepartnersforeducation.org website and follow the link there to sign up."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla