USA Science and Engineering Festival

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USA Science & Engineering Festival is a science & engineering festival in Washington, D.C. that founder Larry Bock deemed the country’s first national science festival.[1] 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). The upcoming third Festival is set for April 23–27, 2014, and will launch with the Extreme STEM (X-STEM) Symposium on April 24, 2014. The USA Science & Engineering Festival will partner with the U.S. News STEM Solutions National Conference and host the conference on April 23–25, 2014. The 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival has featured a year of school programs, affiliate events and sponsored several video & other project contests during the entire year leading up to the Finale Expo in April 2014. The Nifty Fifty Program has returned and tripled in size featuring a group of 150 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2013–2014 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools.
There has been a growing nation-wide network of X-STEM school groups formed in interested schools & community organizations and senior/retired speakers in STEM fields & careers. There is also a network of Satellite events/festivals. It is supported by Mr. Bock, thousands of presenters, sponsoring businesses, many other organizations, and many hundreds of volunteers (more needed!).


The mission of the USA Science & Engineering Festival is to re-invigorate the interest of our 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.

2010 Festival[edit]

The two-week festival culminated with a two-day Expo on the National Mall that gave over 550 U.S. science & 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, US Botanic Gardens, Koshland Museum, FIRST, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts.[2]

Nifty Fifty[edit]

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 DC 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.[3]

Lunch With a Laureate[edit]

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.[4]


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.[5][6] About 500,000 people reportedly attended the event.[7]

The second Expo took place in Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on April 27–29, 2012.[2] The third Expo will take place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on April 26–27, 2014.[8]

Satellite festivals[edit]

Satellite festivals were being planned in 2010 at a number of locations throughout the U.S., 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).[9]

Government Support[edit]

The Festival had a bipartisan Honorary Congressional Host Committee of over 100 members.[10] House Resolution 1660 [11] and Senate Resolution 656 [12] were unanimously approved in support of the goals of the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

The White House scheduled their Inaugural White House 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.[13]

President Obama created a dedicated Public Service Announcement inviting the general public to the USA Science & Engineering Festival.[14]

Over 50 major government officials attended or participated directly in the USA Science and Engineering Festival including: Chief Science Advisor John Holdren,[15] Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood,[16] Head of R&D for Department of Defense Zachary Lemnios,[17] Head of R&D for Office of Navel Research Michael Kassner talks about ONR's involvement with the USA Science and Engineering Festival,[18] Head of R&D for the National Park Service Gary Machlis was involved with the Festival's Nifty Fifty program,[19] Head of R&D for EPA Paul Anastas was involved with both the Nifty Fifty program and the kick off of the festival,[20] Dr. William Brinkman of the Department of Energy [21] and NIH Director Francis Collins was a Nifty Fifty speaker as well as he performed his own songs at the Festival's Expo.[22]

Science Celebrities Support for the Festival[edit]

Many science celebrities participated in the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival including Bill Nye the Science Guy,[23] Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage [24] and Kari Byron [25] from the television show Mythbusters, Sid the Science Kid,[26] cast members of NCIS [27] and Ernő Rubik.[28]

2012 Festival[edit]

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 Laurette, Satellite Events, Sneak Peek Friday and more.

Attendees of the 2012 Festival[edit]

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 & 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 our 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.

Festival Highlights[edit]

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.

Science Celebrities[edit]

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, US Olympic Speed Skaters & more! Elon Musk, Richard Garriott and George Whitesides were on hand to host a panel discussion. Other celebrities included NASA Astronauts, world renowned authors, top scientists and engineers and more!

2014 Festival[edit]

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 culminates in a 2-day Grand Finale Expo on April 26–27, 2014, with Sneak Peek Friday on April 25, and the US News STEM Solutions Conference on April 23–25. New this year: X-STEM - presented by Northrop Grumman Foundation - an Extreme STEM Symposium for middle and high school students on April 24.


  1. ^ Bock, Larry. "Making Science Cool: Inspiring Students and Giving Society Something to Celebrate". Xconomy, San Diego. Xconomy. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  2. ^ a b "USA Science & Engineering Festival". Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  3. ^ "The Nifty Fifty". USA Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  4. ^ "Lunch with a Laureate". USA Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  5. ^ "Grand Finale Expo- October 23 & 24, 2010, 10am-5:30pm, Washington DC". USA Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  6. ^ "Apply Now to Host an Exhibit or Perform: Expo Dates: October 23 & 24, 2010". USA Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  7. ^ 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." 
  8. ^ "USA Science and Engineering Festival: About". Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  9. ^ "Satellite Events Directory". US Science & Engineering Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  10. ^ "USA Science & Engineering Festival". Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  11. ^ "CSPAN coverage of HR 1660". Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  12. ^ "Largest US Science and Engineering Festival Begins". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  13. ^ "White House Science Fair". Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  14. ^ "President Obama's invitation to the USA Science and Engineering Fair". Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  15. ^ "White House Website". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  16. ^ "The University of Iowa FYI". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  17. ^ "www.Army.Mil". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  18. ^ "Tech Talk on ONR". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  19. ^ Bock, Larry (2010-09-21). "Learning 2 Think Like a Child Again". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  20. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  21. ^ "Energy Blog". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  22. ^ "NIH makes a splash at USA Science and Engineering Festival". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  23. ^ "USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  24. ^ "Supporting Science with the First National U.S. Science Festival". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  25. ^ "Kari Byron at the USA Science & Engineering Festival". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  26. ^ "Sid the Science Kid at the USA Science & Engineering Festival". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  27. ^ Tamura, Leslie (2010-10-25). "Festival on the Mall challenges young and old to think scientifically". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  28. ^ "USA Science & Engineering Festival Announces Rubik’s Cube Tournament - Winners Meet Professor Erno Rubik". Retrieved 2011-02-21.