The first U.S. Science & Engineering Festival occurred in Washington over the last two weeks, October 11-24, with contests, such as “You can do the Rubik’s Cube;” seminars, such as “The Science of Maintaining a healthy Weight;” and other programs. Nobel Laureates, including Society’s previous board chair Dudley Herschbach, participated in Lunches with Laureates where middle and high school students were able to engage in discussions with these prominent scientists. President Obama also hosted to first ever White House Science Fair on October 18 in coordination with the festival. For people who could not travel to the Nation’s capital, satellite festivals were held across the country in several cities, including Austin, Texas; Queens, New York; Wichita, Kansas; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle, Washington; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The event culminated in a large Expo on the National Mall with more than 500 organizations, including Society, sharing the work they do in support of science. At the Society booth in Freedom Plaza, more than a thousand attendees enjoyed meeting Society staff members and learning more about our many programs. Participants made simple gyroscopes out of balloons and bracelets out of beads that are sensitive to ultraviolet light. They also learned how to balance a washer on an index card with a trick that uses center of friction.
The festival has been deemed the first U.S. science festival and it may become an annual event.