Last weekend, DC hosted the USA Science and Engineering Festival. This was the fifth biennial event, which started life in 2010 as an overgrown science fair spread across the National Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue. I have a few images on Flickr from that year, as well as from 2012 and 2016. Not sure why I missed 2014.
Unfortunately the Festival has turned into a commercial showcase dominated by government contractors, federal agencies, and the military. And, of course, everyone was into STEM. Sorry, arts people. I only saw one reference to STEAM.
Even with the excessive weaponization of science, there were some interesting exhibits and fun sights mixed in. Here are a few images from my time in the two huge halls, with the full gallery here.
Many exhibits featured VR and this young man seemed to be having a good time with whatever was in this world presented by the US Air Force.
A cadet from the US Naval Academy helps this boy with programming an Ozobot.
An organization called Squid4Kids based at Stanford University brought, what else, a squid for all of us to touch. It’s just as slimy as it looks.
And at the Army’s huge space, this young man was learning how to drive one of their vehicles using what looked like a standard video game controller.
While spending a few hours wandering through the exhibits at the USA Science and Engineering Festival today, it struck me that this is the way we should be teaching science.
Hands-on, working in small groups, on interesting topics, with no textbooks in sight.
Maybe kids like these would still be excited about learning science when they arrived in high school.