The Inaugural US Science and Engineering Festival took place from October 10-24th, 2010. The grand finale was a two-day Expo on the National Mall, held October 23-24, 2010. During this time, thousands of people traveled to the nation's capital to learn, explore, and celebrate science, technology, engineering and math.
There were over 500 interactive, hands-on exhibits exploring the science of renewable energy, robotics, endangered animals, medical mysteries and much, much more. Major academic centers, leading research institutes, government agencies, high-tech companies, museums and community organizations took part in the festival. Students of all ages could test their knowledge of science and engineering by visiting booths at one of the four festival locations throughout downtown DC. In addition to booths and exhibits, the festival showcased over 50 stage shows featuring science celebrities, rappers, musicians, magicians, and comedians. There was, quite literally, something for everyone!
The events did not occur only in the nation's capital, but also at more than 25 satellite events held across the nation. In Florida, one such satellite event was at Camp Bayou on October 24th, 2010, where people could learn more about several different citizen science programs in the area. This community festival helped connect the public with science and engineering, and also connected scientists with each other. In partnership with COPUS, the festival hosted an informal get-together Saturday evening to build connections between exhibitors. Many exhibitors had the opportunity to meet with one another and talk about their experiences at the festival, as well as what changes they would like to see within their respective fields in the future.
I had the opportunity to work both days at the American Institute of Biological Sciences booth on the National Mall conducting an activity that focused on the Chesapeake Bay Food Web. We were all expecting a large crowd but the turnout exceeded all of our expectations! We had an arts and crafts activity where people could use yarn, pipe cleaners, beads, crayons, and picture cut-outs to make a take-home food mobile of things you find in the Bay. It was great interacting with people and having discussions with people of all ages about the Bay and how we need to preserve it.
The festival was truly a success and I look forward to the next one. If you couldn't make it to DC, hopefully you will make it to a local festival taking place near you soon!