I’m looking forward to the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall on October 23 and 24 from 10am to 5:30pm. Hosted by Lockheed Martin, the Expo is the free grand finale for a nationwide festival that begins on October 10 with activities across the nation. With over 1,500 fun, hands-on interactive activities, and 75 stage shows for all ages, there will be a lot to choose from. One way to navigate the many choices is to go to the Expo Tracks page to see the age and theme tracks and choose which area of the Expo to visit—Weatherfest (all ages), Wiz Pop Bang (ages 7-10), and The Tiny Animal Lover (ages 6 and under) are the three most appropriate for preschoolers but don’t limit yourself to these themes. Next go to the Expo Exhibits page, and select a track, or just the “under 6” age group to see the age appropriate exhibits. Here are a few exhibits I found with a quick search, but don’t limit yourself to these examples:
Science is Everywhere—for Everyone! by National Science Teachers Association Section NM-1, Booth Number(s) 116, 118, 120, 122, 124 National Science Teachers Association ( NSTA ) and our State Chapters and Affiliates will provide exciting, engaging, dramatic and in some cases down-right awe-inspiring opportunities for participants to see that science educators assure “Science Matters to Everyone!”. Come enjoy demonstrations, hands-on activities, and inquiries for all ages and interests. NSTA is also one stop on the Evolution Thought Trail to learn about best-teaching-practices in the science classroom. Come enjoy demonstrations, hands-on activities, and inquiries for all ages and interests. NSTA is also one stop on the evolution thought trail to learn about best-teaching-practices in the science classroom.
Insectopia by Duke University Section FP, Booth Number(s) 1547 The colors on butterfly wings have inspired artists and scientists with their beauty for ages, but they have a serious purpose. We’ll see how the beautiful color patterns of the butterfly’s wings are built up of small pieces, like pixels, and engage in some activities to illustrate how wing patterns develop and what they might be for. Can YOU find the hidden butterflies in our display? Color your own butterfly wings — make them flashy or invisible. And before you go, please join us in singing and dancing to the infectious ditty “Head, Thorax, Abdomen.”
Are You Smarter Than An Ape or a Dog? by Duke University Section FP, Booth Number(s) 1549 Try your hand at some of the problem-solving tests that Duke University anthropologist Brian Hare has used on Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and domestic dogs. After you try your best, we’ll show you videotaped experiments of animals performing the same tests. Can you do better than they did?
Why or why not? Hands On With Mad Science by Mad Science Section PA-13, Booth Number(s) 1201, 1203, 1300, 1302 Get your hands dirty by making your own slime, tasting cool potions, and experimenting with alternate power sources. Learn about life under the water with alien sea creatures!
Science You Can Do! by Science for Citizens, ScienceForCitizens.net Section PA-13, Booth Number(s) 1229, 1231 Get your hands dirty with science. Interactive demos of research projects you can join. From bugs to birds, kitchen chemistry to computer games, environmental monitoring to electronic music. Win a science trip!
Slithering Science by Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Section WP, Booth Number(s) 1122 Slither and hop, hiss and croak: What can amphibians and reptiles tell us about the environment? See, touch, and meet some live examples of these important, but often feared and under-appreciated, members of earth’s ecosystems.
Hands-on Science by American Museum of Natural History Section PA-13, Booth Number(s) 1341 Touchable objects and fossils from our collections help bring science alive to learners of all ages. Our staff will support hands-on activity centers that use these engaging objects as teaching and learning tools about science and the scientific process.
To find your exhibit choices once you are at the Expo, use the map and booth numbers. Print one at home or pick up a map at the Expo. When my children were young I would take them to museums with the goal of visiting just one room and the bathroom. There was always too much to see it all. My children would tolerate “drive-by” stroller tours of the art museums, but wanted to get out and look at the National Museum of Natural History. Riding on the public transit train, the Metro, is an adventure in itself with maps and colors to discuss.
I hope the USA Science and Engineering Festival will become an annual event. Maybe I’ll see you there!