Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fun at the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo

On Saturday, October 23, 2010, Princess and I joined the crowd at the first USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, DC. Roughly 850 organizations from all walks of science - education, industry, government - presented more than 1,500 interactive exhibits. The range of topics was staggering. But my favorite exhibits weren't just interactive, they were off the wall.

Maggot Monet, presented by Southeastern Louisiana University's College of Science and Technology, allowed visitors to paint with live maggots. Or rather, you dipped the maggots into paint and they did the painting for you by wiggling across the page. You got to take home their maggot masterpiece.

Candy Experiments™ was another hot exhibit. Visit their online experiments page to put your Halloween candy to the test. Did you know that you can create a density rainbow using Skittles? Float the letter "m" off of your M&Ms? Make Life Savers flash in the dark? Their booth was so popular that I couldn't even get the stroller near it.

All in all, the festival was a terrific success. Families crowded around displays of sea ice, robotic arms, nanotechnology, microbiology. The 8-to-12-year-old crowd, in particular, enjoyed the many options for fun: racing model cars, building molecular models, shooting foam rockets, meeting TV stars from CSI Miami.

But the festival didn't exactly cater to the youngest scientists. Access was difficult with a stroller. Princess did get to color a kidney for the American Society of Nephrology. We won a stuffed E. coli. And she had fun playing with ping-pong ball "moons".

I hope it becomes an annual event so that we can take her brothers with us next time. As it was, I lugged home a load of science swag for them. As soon as this picture was taken, they divvied up the goods and scurried off with their newfound treasures. Dad got to keep the science-themed T-shirt. Princess and I have our memories. Well, that and the stuffed E. coli.

Photo credits: Mama Joules


Loralee said...

I'm sorry you weren't able to make it into the candy experiments booth. We would have loved to see you. But you can still do the experiments at home, including chromatography, find hidden candy, and Sour Bubble Test (drop Warheads in baking soda water.) I bet your daughter would especially like that one.

Glad you enjoyed the festival!

jublke said...

Thanks, Loralee, I did! I stopped by your Candy Experiments website after the festival and now I really want to float each wax letter "s" off of the candies in my next pack of Skittles. :)

I really like that you've taken something special between you and your daughter and shared it with the larger community, all in the name of science education.