The USA Science and Engineering Festival had something for everyone this weekend—information, experiences, fun and challenges for scientists young and old.
I learned about the senses through the “Science of Our Senses” exhibit activities by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. By smelling, people can have different perceptions of the same compound, that is, things may not smell the same to different people. Data was collected by age and intensity of the perceived smell on the Smell Board to see if any trends developed. Listening to a “Shepard Tone” sounds like it’s rising endlessly because our brain doesn’t notice that other rising tones come up from the depths to take our focus away from the tone that rose out of our hearing range. The sense of touch activity involved identifying shapes by touch. The sense of sight was illustrated by optical illusions.
The National Science Teachers Association tables had a steady stream of visitors making soda straw rockets, a sense of touch materials science challenge, a center-of-gravity activity to balance a butterfly, a loop plane (see page 48), as well as an activity involving a hairdryer blowing toilet paper and one with a big jar of cheese balls (your guess is as good as mine, I wish I had participated!).
The volunteers staffing a National Institute of Health booth were using models to teach about the structure of the human brain. Visitors lined up to look through a window into the Crew Module of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. And Ms Frizzle brought the Magic School Bus to the Festival.
It was wonderful to see so many families spending time together learning, and to meet teachers who came from places like NYC and California just for the Festival.
Next year I hope to go both days.