USA Science Festival
The second leg of the ONCCEE EPE team’s East Coast tour took us to the USA capitol, Washington DC. Walking about the city, we encountered magnificent white-marble monuments, historic figures and countless museums at almost every turn. The city is also home to a very special event – The USA Science and Engineering Festival. By coincidence, the EPE team just happened to stumble upon this annual event (in its second year ) during our visit…and boy did we make the most of it!
Whether you are interested in space, robotics, human health, microbes or the ocean, there was something for every future scientist and engineer to explore. The exhibition hall was a sea of kids as they navigated through the maze of booths, experiencing real science first hand.
My adventure in science began when I sat down at a demo-machine that is used to teach surgeons how to use robotics to conduct brain surgeries. With a light pinch of the fingers and flick of the wrist, my robotic arms gave me full dexterity to make fine manipulations during surgery of a plastic brain.
Then I visited the particle accelerator tunnel, where I entered as a proton, only to emerge as a neutron! My journey continued to NOAA’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) station, where I learned about the importance of ROVs in marine exploration and how they work.
The Consortium of Ocean Leadership exhibit featured a fun game that simulated drilling sediment cores from the seafloor from a large ship.
In addition to the exhibits, the festival also hosted several outstanding lectures. I was in awe during Nan Hauser’s inspiring lecture about humpback whales. Dr. Hauser showcased her amazing research in the Cook Islands, looking at the migration patterns, behaviors and call signals of these large mammals. I also took in a lecture by Ted Talk presenter extraordinaire, Dr. David Gallo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who showed stunning images of his deep sea exploration adventures to some never-before-seen places beneath the waves. He first showed haunting images of the famous Titanic, retelling the story of its mournful end. Then Dr. Gallo continued his lecture with fascinating footage of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, spewing toxic gases and extremely salty lakes hidden thousands of meters below sea level!
The day was exhilarating! As an informal educator, this event reminded me that not only is science super cool, but science is also a part of our everyday life – whether we notice or not. For example, many people don’t question where the oxygen we breathe comes from, but scientists know that every second breath we take comes the ocean.
What real-life science did you notice today?