Children have been the faces of climate change for decades as science-minded folks invoke the concept of preserving a safe world for our grandchildren. This week, the stars of the Philadelphia Environmental Film are 56 fifth graders combating the endless onslaught of microplastics.

Meanwhile, the Academy of Natural Sciences brings lessons home with a virtual celebration of earth and water. At week’s end, the mid-autumn festival reminds us of the beauty in both the change in seasons and the diversity of the people who share our planet.

Earth and Water Science Celebration

Nikita Shah, a former Drexel co-op student with the Academy of Natural Sciences, takes stream measurements.
Image courtesy of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Nikita Shah, a former Drexel co-op student with the Academy of Natural Sciences, takes stream measurements.

Leave it to the Academy of Natural Sciences to come up with activities we haven’t done with our own kids yet — like making recycled-content fridge magnets, rainwater collectors, and earth-friendly food wrap — and programming that definitely counts as going to science class. The week is all about marshes, streams, water creatures, and conservation biology. The brainy celebration includes an “Ask the Scientists” Zoom on water heroes at 3 p.m. Tuesday, and two live “love the earth” story times on the Academy’s Facebook page at noon on Wednesday and Friday.

Creation Station at the Franklin Institute

Opens Wednesday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesday–Sunday, free with museum admission of $19–$23 (reservations required) details at fi.edu/exhibit/creation-station (ages 3 and up)

The Franklin Institute has been taking a slow and steady approach to reopening. Visitors can now return to experiment with physics in Sir Isaac’s Loft and test their engineering degrees in the Tech Studio. Also, little visitors can get carefully hands-on with a new pop-up: socially distanced play stations featuring XL Legos and oversize foam blocks that are just like the ones in the Imagination Playground of the still-closed Please Touch Museum.

Fall Fest at Morgan’s Pier

Noon-9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Nov. 1, pumpkin carving 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, reservations required to enter the restaurant, at morganspier.com (all ages)

In usual times, beer gardens are pretty great for bringing the kids, with room to run around, yummy snacks, and outdoor games. Lately they’ve worked better for families whose kids are content to sit and color, but not for those of us blessed with more — sigh — active youngsters. Starting Wednesday, Delaware Avenue’s Morgan’s Pier has added hay bales, and on weekends $5-$10 pumpkins to carve, keeping busy fingers busy, and parents happy. Just as long as the kids don’t get to sampling your spiked s’mores cocktail.

Environmental Film Festival

7 p.m. Wednesday–Sunday, Sept. 27, $12 for single program, $30 all-access pass at philaenvirofilmfest.org (ages 7 and up)

"Microplastic Madness" is a feature-length documentary starring eco-warrior fifth graders from Brooklyn. It's part of this year's virtual Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival.
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival
"Microplastic Madness" is a feature-length documentary starring eco-warrior fifth graders from Brooklyn. It's part of this year's virtual Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival.

In Microplastic Madness, a feature-length film in Philly’s virtual eco film festival, fifth graders from Brooklyn experiment, beachcomb, host a plastic-free cafeteria lunch, and stage a full-fledged protest to demonstrate the dangers of everyday dependence on plastics. A $12 ticket to the “Kid’s Planet” program — one of 13 thematic “programs” of film features and shorts — gets viewers into a live interview with directors of Microplastic Madness and scientists with the Academy of Natural Sciences (3 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Thursday). An all-access pass gets you all 13 programs. Kids Planet program available starting 7 a.m. Weds.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Noon–4 p.m. Saturday, free online at aaunited.org or on Facebook at @AsianAmericansUnited (ages 3 and up)

Chinatown’s best-kept-secret festival is virtual this year, with a bevy of activities for kids — paper lantern making, an illustrated story, coloring pages, word puzzles — and four hours of live and prerecorded programming, including tai chi, singing, and more. It all happens on the afternoon the event would have closed down 10th Street at Arch Street. There won’t be a children’s parade through the streets this year. But you can still have your own parade to neighborhood bakeries selling dense, delicious, mid-autumn mooncakes.