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AAAS Participates as Founding Partner, Provides Activities at USA Science & Engineering Festival

A number of exciting, family-friendly activities are planned for Washington, D.C. and across the nation when the first-ever USA Science & Engineering Festival opens next month. As a founding partner helping to make the event possible, AAAS has provided planning and promotional assistance and will host two festival activities.

The main festival activities will take place on the National Mall and surrounding areas from 11-24 October, with free events ranging from exhibits to lectures to stage shows.

Satellite events, including family-friendly science festivals, science-oriented group discussions, and special museum functions, will be held nationwide throughout the month.

An expo portion of the festival will take place in Washington, D.C., on Saturday 23 October and Sunday 24 October. Featuring more than 1,500 interactive activities made possible by the efforts of over 500 local and national science organizations, the expo offers something for everyone. It’s free and open to the public.

Expo booths and events will be hosted by organizations including universities, museums, government agencies, nonprofits and corporations. The activities will provide attendees the chance to learn about topics ranging from nanotechnology to zoology.


Two AAAS activities will be featured during the Expo. At the AAAS booth, “The Science Inside You,” located on the National Mall and hosted by AAAS Education and Human Resources, attendees will learn about how their bodies work and the importance of staying healthy. The booth will feature activities from AAAS’s Science Gym project, which incorporates games to help children understand the complex ways in which the human body works.

Activities in “The Science Inside You” booth will help young people understand the mechanics of caloric intake, exercising off those calories, and striking the right balance between the two. Attendees will gain exposure to a number of health-science topics through interactive activities, including: tracking changes in their pulse rates before and after various exercises; learning how much exercise it takes to burn off one bite of various foods; and testing their reaction times by catching calibrated rulers.

Bob Hirshon

“Telling kids to eat healthier foods and to exercise more isn’t enough,” explains AAAS Senior Project Director Bob Hirshon, “It’s all about empowering kids—giving them the information they need to make smart choices.”

AAAS will also host its popular “Meet the Scientists!” stage show event, which will take place from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday 23 October and Sunday 24 October. The event will be held near the National Mall in the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, located at 1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W. The event is open to the public and particularly designed with middle and high school students in mind.

“Meet the Scientists!” allows festival-goers to attend engaging presentations by scientists as well as ask questions and interact with them off-stage.

“Providing opportunities for scientists to engage directly with the greater Washington, D.C., community, including children and adults, is central to AAAS participation in this event,” said Tiffany Lohwater, AAAS public engagement manager.

Tiffany Lohwater

The “Meet the Scientists!” lineup includes experts from a wide range of fields working on myriad exciting topics. Among the speakers will be Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program, exploring evolutionary sciences; James Kakalios, science consultant for the film Watchmen, investigating the physics of superheroes; and Jennifer Mickelberg, research fellow at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, sharing her work on endangered species.

AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner serves on the Festival Advisory Board and will participate as a speaker in the festival’s Nifty Fifty series. The program identified 50 science and engineering professionals—the “nifty fifty”—and has arranged for each of them to talk about their work with middle and high school students throughout the greater Washington, D.C., area. During the month of October, the speakers will visit schools, allowing students to gain exposure to the people behind the fields explored at the festival.

Alan I. Leshner

Leshner, who also serves as executive publisher of Science, is scheduled to speak in early October to students at the Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences (MATHS), a public charter school in Baltimore.


The USA Science & Engineering Festival runs from 11-24 October. See the full schedule of festival events.

See the full AAAS “Meet the Scientists!” schedule, directions to the Mellon Auditorium, and more information about AAAS programs at the festival.