USA Science and Engineering Festival
USA Science & Engineering Festival is a science festival held in Washington, D.C., that is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in the United States. It was founded by serial entrepreneur Larry Bock and Ray O. Johnson, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Due to the festival sponsors, including the founding and presenting host Lockheed Martin, the festival is free and open to the public.
The inaugural event was held from October 10, 2010, through October 24, 2010, the second festival was April 27–29, 2012 (attended by a quarter million visitors) and the third festival attracted over 325,000 visitors on April 24–27, 2014. The 3rd festival featured the first ever X-STEM Symposium on April 24, 2014, presented by Northrop Grumman Foundation and MedImmune, with interactive presentations and workshops by an exclusive group of visionaries who aim to empower and inspire kids about STEM careers. The 4th festival will be held on April 16-17, 2016, and the next X-STEM Symposium will be held as a standalone event on April 28, 2015 and will feature presentations and workshops by leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,  including Dean Kamen, leader of the STEM Outreach Movement, pioneering engineer and entrepreneur, Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs, award-winning producer and cinematographer, Louie Schwartzberg, astronaut in training, 13-year old Alyssa Carson, and entrepreneur and Teen STEM Advocate, Vanessa Thompson.
- 1 Mission
- 2 2010 Festival
- 2.1 Nifty Fifty
- 2.2 Lunch With a Laureate
- 2.3 Expo
- 2.4 Satellite festivals
- 2.5 Government support
- 2.6 Science celebrities' support for the festival
- 2.7 2012 Festival
- 2.8 2014 Festival
- 3 References
The mission of the USA Science & Engineering Festival is to re-invigorate the interest of the nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science festival in the United States.
The two-week festival culminated with a two-day Expo on the National Mall that gave over 550 U.S. science and engineering organizations the opportunity to present interactive hands-on, science activities with the goal of engaging the general public and generating scientific excitement and awareness. Over 550 organizations partnered with the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival including 125 universities/research institutes, 125 professional science societies, 50 government agencies, 30 high tech and life science companies and 150 informal science outreach organizations
These included the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, AAAS, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society, IEEE, American Woman in Sciences, Society of Hispanic Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Georgetown. University of California San Diego, University of California, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, U.S. Naval Academy, Duke, University of Maryland, J. Craig Venter Research Institute, Carnegie Institute of Sciences, NIH, NSF, NASA, Office of Naval Research, Department of Energy, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Fermi Accelerator Facility, Princeton Plasma Physics, Lockheed Martin, Agilent, Google, Baxter, ResMed, Hitachi, Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, U.S. Botanic Gardens, Koshland Museum, FIRST, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts.
The Nifty Fifty program was a group of fifty nominated professionals in various areas of science and engineering who interacted and spoke about their work and careers to middle and high school students across Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2010. Speakers backgrounds were varied and span from Chemistry, Biotechnology, Engineering, Math, Computer Science, Medicine, Green Technology, Nanotechnology, Business, Physics, Astronomy, and Energy.
Lunch With a Laureate
The "Lunch with a Laureate" program was focused on a small group of middle and high school students across the greater Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland areas. The purpose of the program was to engage students in informal conversations with a Nobel Prize–winning scientist over a brown-bag lunch. The twelve laureates that participated in this program were: Leon M. Lederman, John C. Mather, William Daniel Phillips, Robert H. Grubbs, Alan J. Heeger, Dudley R. Herschbach, Phillip A. Sharp, Kary B. Mullis, Kurt Wuthrich, Douglas D. Osheroff, Baruch Samuel Blumberg and Sir Harry Kroto.
The two-week festival ended with a two-day expo on the National Mall that featured over 500 U.S. science organizations. The list of exhibitors included universities, colleges, high school science clubs, student organizations, research institutes, informal science outreach organizations, community organizations, professional science & engineering societies, life science and high tech companies, and other types of science organizations. About 500,000 people reportedly attended the event.
The second expo took place in Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on April 27–29, 2012. The third expo took place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on April 26–27, 2014.
Satellite festivals were being planned in 2010 at a number of locations throughout the United States, including: Arizona: Tucson; California: Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Ana; Florida: Gainesville, Jacksonville, Ruskin, West Palm Beach; Idaho: Pocatello; Illinois: Chicago, DeKalb; Maryland: Middle River, Rockville; New Jersey: Clifton; New York: New York City, Rochester; North Carolina: Chapel Hill (North Carolina Science Festival); Ohio: Cleveland, Columbus; Texas: Austin, Dallas, San Antonio; Virginia: Fairfax, Falls Church, Hampton, Reston; Washington: Vancouver (Pacific Northwest Science & Engineering Festival). Michigan Tech's Mind Trekkers is also a traveling component of the USA Science & Engineering Festival.
The festival had a bipartisan Honorary Congressional Host Committee of over 100 members. House Resolution 1660 and Senate Resolution 656 were unanimously approved in support of the goals of the USA Science & Engineering Festival.
The White House scheduled its inaugural science fair to coincide with the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival. President Obama referenced the importance of this Festival in his keynote address at the White House Science Fair.
President Obama created a dedicated public service announcement inviting the general public to the USA Science & Engineering Festival.
Over 50 major government officials attended or participated directly in the USA Science and Engineering Festival including: Chief Science Advisor John Holdren, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Head of R&D for Department of Defense Zachary Lemnios, Head of R&D for Office of Naval Research Michael Kassner talks about ONR's involvement with the USA Science and Engineering Festival, Head of R&D for the National Park Service Gary Machlis was involved with the festival's Nifty Fifty program, Head of R&D for EPA Paul Anastas was involved with both the Nifty Fifty program and the kick off of the festival, William Brinkman of the Department of Energy and NIH Director Francis Collins was a Nifty Fifty speaker as well as he performed his own songs at the festival's expo.
Science celebrities' support for the festival
Many science celebrities participated in the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, and Kari Byron from the television show Mythbusters, Sid the Science Kid, cast members of NCIS, and Ernő Rubik.
The 2012 USA Science & Engineering Festival was at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on April 28–29, 2012, and Sneak Peek Friday was April 27, 2012. The 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival hosted programs leading up to the festival, including Nifty Fifty, Lunch with a Laureate, Satellite Events, Sneak Peek Friday and more.
Attendees of the 2012 Festival
Including attendees, exhibitors, volunteers and staff over 200,000 people actively participating in this momentous Festival celebration over the three-day period. The DC Convention Center has reported that the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival is the second most attended event in the history of the Center! Sneak Peek Friday more than doubled in size based on the number of students who had pre-registered, and included nearly 28,000 students, teachers, military families, government officials and press.
Another 300,000 individuals celebrated science and engineering at 90+ Satellite Events and Affiliate Festivals across the country and beyond. The festival spirit reached as far as Wroclaw, Poland, where 13 universities and high schools created the Lower Silesian Science Festival, anchored to the USA Science & Engineering Festival. In addition, over 50,000 people participated in the Nifty Fifty and other pre-Expo events. And another 5,000 participated in events surrounding the Expo such as the Stargazing Party, Science Comedy Night and the Featured Author Evening.
The festival was attended by key White House officials such as Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; President Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, attended a Nifty Fifty presentation; senior leaders from other countries attended, including Prince Mohammed from Saudi Arabia.
The festival hosted approximately 3,000 hands on activities from over 550 participating organizations. Over 800 schools participated in the festival and transportation grants were issued to under deserved schools in the Greater DC is to bring students to the festival. Attendees enjoyed 150 live performances by science celebrities, explorers, best-selling authors, entrepreneurs and world-renowned experts. The Nifty Fifty Program doubled and over 100 of the top scientists and engineers in the country were selected to speak at schools in the Greater DC area in the month leading up to the festival.
Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, of Discovery Channel's MythBusters performed at the 2012 Festival. Science celebrities included Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mayim Bialik, Apollo Robbins, Sid the Science Kid, cast members of NCIS Los Angeles, U.S. Olympic Speed Skaters and more. Elon Musk, Richard Garriott and George T. Whitesides were on hand to host a panel discussion. Other celebrities included NASA astronauts, world-renowned authors, top scientists and engineers.
The 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival, the largest science festival in the United States, features nationwide contests and school programs during the 2013/2014 school year, including the popular "Nifty Fifty" science speaker program. The festival culminated in a two-day Grand Finale Expo on April 26–27, 2014, with Sneak Peek Friday on April 25, and the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference on April 23–25. And the new X-STEM Symposium- presented by Northrop Grumman Foundation - an Extreme STEM Symposium for middle and high school students on April 24 was a great success.
Attendees of the 2014 Festival
The festival took over the entire Convention Center this year, utilizing over 2.3 million square feet of space to inspire the next generation of the country's STEM workforce. Based on estimated numbers from the Convention Center, more than 325,000 people attended over the 4 days (X-STEM and Sneak Peek Friday included). Many exhibitors reported that roughly 11,000 visitors stopped by their booth over the course of the three-day Expo. Attendees from all 50 states in the U.S. and international attendees from over 20 different countries visited the festival. Sneak Peek Friday included 40,000+ students, teachers, military families, government officials and press – a 30% increase from 2012. Sneak Peek Friday attendees included students from 38 states – and three countries. The inaugural X-STEM Symposium was a huge success, with more than 4,000 students and teachers from area and underserved schools, homeschoolers, and military families in attendance.
Another 300,000 individuals celebrated science & engineering at 200+ Satellite Events and Affiliate Festivals across the country and beyond. In addition, over 180,000 people participated in the Nifty Fifty and other pre-Expo events.
To bring a new STEM decision maker audience to the festival, the festival hosted over 20 other major STEM Professional Events at the Convention Center at the same time as this event, including the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) P3 college student competition. More than 400 new organizations that had never participated before with big increases in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics, Skilled Trades Professionals, STEAM (i.e., Design) and DIYers/Makers, and overall doubled the number of participating exhibitors from 2012.
- More than 3,000 hands-on activities
- Over 150 live performances by science celebrities, explorers, best-selling authors, entrepreneurs and world-renowned experts
- More than 1,000 participating organizations
- 2,000 participating schools
- Over 1,400 volunteers
- Science celebrities including They Might Be Giants, Mike Rowe, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Danica McKellar, Apollo Robbins, Michio Kaku, Dr. Donna J. Nelson, and many others.
- The festival was attended by key White House officials such as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (State Department Reception) and Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment; Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education; John Holdren, Senior Advisor to the President for Science and Technology Policy; Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President.
- "USA Science and Engineering Festival - X - STEM - EXTREME STEM SYMPOSIUM - Speaker Profiles"
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- "Grand Finale Expo- October 23 & 24, 2010, 10am-5:30pm, Washington DC". USA Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- "Apply Now to Host an Exhibit or Perform: Expo Dates: October 23 & 24, 2010". USA Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- Tamura, Leslie (2010-10-25). "Festival on the Mall challenges young and old to think scientifically". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post Company). Retrieved 2010-10-27.
More than 1,500 free, interactive exhibits drew about 500,000 people to downtown Washington this weekend to learn about science, technology, engineering and math.
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