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 Vol. 2 - No. 20 - March 6, 2012

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Countdown to the Festival:
Less Than 2 Months Until the Largest Celebration of Science & Engineering! 


Walter E. Washington Convention Center 
Convention Center 
Saturday, April 28, 10am-6pm
Sunday, April 29, 10am-4pm      

Over 3,000 hands-on science and
engineering activities
More than 100 stage shows on six stages 

A free event for all ages

Registration OPEN for Volunteering at the Expo & Book Fair!


Come join the fun as a Volunteer for the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo & Book Fair between WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25th and SUNDAY, APRIL 29th!


Volunteers are needed for the Expo, Book Fair, Science Comedian Night, Featured Author Evening, & Stargazing Party.


Volunteer for a variety of Festival volunteer positions by registering HERE. 


Expo & Book Fair Volunteer Training Dates:

Saturday, APRIL 14th or Saturday, APRIL 21st.

10am-12pm or 1pm-3pm based on job assignments.


Training Location:

K & L Gates, 1601 K Street, N.W. #1, Washington, D.C. 20006.


Group Volunteer Opportunities: 

Groups with 5 or more members can volunteer as Festival Ambassadors to help guests with directions and hand out Festival Maps.  Click on this form to sign up.  


Volunteer Outreach Team Poster Party Pick-Up

PosterVolunteers will be able to drive by and pick up our Large 19" X 27" posters to distribute to schools, libraries, community organizations, grocery stores, Festival partners and communities in DC Area at the Volunteer Outreach Team Poster Party Pick-Up on Saturday, March 10th 2-4:30PM at K & L Gates, 1601 K Street, N.W. #1, Washington, D.C. 20006



We will also have a Volunteer Outreach Team Meeting from 2:00-3:30 PM.


Sign up for Poster Party Pick up:

New Volunteer Outreach Team Member click here. 


Registered Volunteer Outreach Team click here. 

And in Other Important Festival News...   

Countdown to Expo: Plan Your Day! 

The Finale Expo (April 28-29) is less than 60 days away! You'll find over 3,000 different hands-on activities, experiments, and lots of scientists and engineers to talk to, and over 100 stage performances. Find exhibits and performances that meet your interests before the Expo and make the most of your visit!

Click Here to plan your day and learn more!


Be sure to become of fan of ours on Facebook!  

Like ButtonClick here to "like" us on Facebook to stay up to date with all Festival news and to connect with others in the Festival community!  


Preregister for the Expo to win a cool prize! 

Let us know that you are planning to attend the Expo, and you will automatically be signed up for a chance to meet Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of the Mythbusters OR Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory; an iPad 2; lots of Cool Video Games; lots of Science and Engineering Books; or 1 of 50 T-shirts! You don't have to preregister to attend the Festival Expo, but you will have a chance to win a cool prize while letting us know a little about who will be attending. 

Click Here to preregister now!    


Motivating Young Learners in Science is a Way of Life For Festival's 3 Songwriting Contest Winners! 


musicThe songs you voted winners in the Songwriting Contest for the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Festival not only capture the spirit of the Festival, but also illustrate how the writers of these compositions, through their individual professional pursuits, share the wonders of science with young learners.


The three winning songwriters - Becky Ferreira, David Newman and Monty Harper - are all non-scientist professionals with a keen interest in marrying science with music to educate and motivate young learners in science frontiers.


BeckyBased in New York City, Ferreira is a freelance writer for such science and technology publications as Popular Science, New Scientist and Wired, in addition to being a musician and standup comedian.  


In penning her winning entry, Ferreira says she was thinking about the disconnect in science and math education that exists today for many American elementary students. "There's a prevailing attitude that these fields are, at best, hard or boring. It's a serious problem because kids are naturally fascinated by the grandeur of science - they are obsessed with dinosaurs, space, marine biology, animal behavior and technology. They love honesty, they love to be challenged and they love to ask questions. I Want to Know was my humble attempt to ignite that sense of wonder in the next generation." 


Assisting Ferreira with the singing and harmony on the song were her friends Lucy Carson, Jessi Cimafonte and Molly Schulman.  Click here for more information on Ferreira and her music.


NewmanNewman, a professional baritone classical singer who teaches voice at James Madison University, lives in rural Virginia and writes children's science songs in his spare time. Newman's I Want to Sing About Science cleverly and succinctly illustrates the arduous process involved in scientific research by taking listeners through how bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and how astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus arrived at the theory that proved the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun.  "I love a challenge, which this song certainly was," says David with a laugh, "because I had to fit a lot of factual information in a short amount of time and make it interesting. But I also love the feeling of creativity and discovery as the song emerges." 


The song was inspired by the name of a website ("Sing About Science") created by two songwriting friends of his, Greg Crowther and Wendy Silk. For more information on his other works visit this link.


HarperHarper's Super Scientist is an edgy, rock-oriented tune inspired by Oklahoma State University microbiologist Marianna Patrauchan and her work to decode the chemical language that bacteria use to talk to one another when they form biofilms. "Her work is very tedious and time consuming, but she is very dedicated and motivated about doing it, partly because it may end up saving lives," says Harper.


In reflecting on what initially inspired him to enter the contest, Harper, a professional songwriter based in Stillwater, OK, where he specializes in science songs for children, sums up the spirit of the Festival when he says, "I'm fascinated by the process of science and I love learning and motivating others about this process. It's also clear to me that science is humanity's best chance to come together and find solutions to the world's problems. How can anyone not be interested in that?"


(Don't miss Harper at the Festival Expo Saturday, April 28 at 11 a.m., and Sunday, April 29 at 10:30 a.m. on Einstein Stage.)


Click here for more information on Harper and his music.


Congratulations to the winners, and a big thank you to the other top contenders and all who submitted!  


To listen to all finalist songs, click here.


Call for Entries for the Kavli Science Video Contest!!

Grades 6-12 students compete for the chance to win $2000 (first prize) and a travel stipend to Washington DC to attend the festival. The winners are also honored in an awards ceremony, hosted by Bill Nye, as 

part of the festival.


Our central theme, or driving question, is  how to "Save the World through Science and Engineering".  Students make a short video (30-90 min) that shows how  scientific discoveries and inventions can improve our lives and change our world, either right now or in the future. Enter by March 21, 2012.

Click here for details!

Meet Storytellers Who Are Changing Science: Don't Miss Our Featured Author Evening April 28!



science book

In a free "must attend" event on Saturday evening, April 28 at George Washington University with Featured Authors from the Festival's Book Fair, these noted writers will explore how their work is re-invigorating interest in the sciences by encouraging youth to pursue careers in science and engineering, and by increasing science literacy among the adult public.


Titled "Science Stories in Society & School: Using Narrative to Bridge the Gap", this panel discussion, moderated by science advocate and film writer Sean Lawrence Otto (author of Fool Me Twice:Fighting the Assault on Science in America), includes an introduction by Festival Featured Dr. Robin CookAuthor Robin Cook,  the physician who helped bring a shift in the understanding of medicine through his science fiction literature starting with Coma in the 1970s; and will be followed by fellow Featured Author panelists: Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Mathematica and pioneer in pictorial periodic tables; engineer and practical pyromaniac William Gurstelle; retired rocket scientist and author of October Sky Homer Hickam; award-winning history and science storyteller Joy Hakim; and physician, philanthropist and writer Pendred Noyce.


Join us from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC in what promises to be a lively discussion (followed by a book signing) with these fascinating authors!


For more information, including ticket registration, visit this site. 

Scientific American Returns: Inspiring a New Generation of Science Enthusiasts!

ScientificAmericanScientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in  the U.S. and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media, is returning to the Festival as a key Media Sponsor, bringing a wealth of hands-on encounters that will connect students with science discovery in exciting ways - all designed to inspire a new generation of "scientific Americans."


"Communicating the power of science - from cutting-edge exploration to practical application - is at the root of what we do at Scientific American," says Michael Voss, the publication's Vice President and Associate Publisher of Marketing and Business Development. "Whether it's the latest discoveries in quantum mechanics or new insights into Alzheimer's and the brain, our mission is to bring the wonder and relevance of science to a broader audience, and that includes the young people who will form the next generation of scientists, journalists, policy-makers, business leaders and citizens." 


At the Festival Expo in April, get ready to experience the hands-on magic of such Scientific American educational outreach initiatives that are all part of the Change the Equation effort of Nature Publishing Group (Scientific American's parent organization).  Change the Equation is a nationwide CEO-led public-private partnership to cultivate widespread literacy in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).


Scientific American's commitment to science education starts at the top with Editor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina. "Kids are natural-born scientists who ask great questions and want to know the answers," she notes "such as the activities at the Festival." 


Through encounters with Bring Science Home - a programBring Science Home that engages parents and kids (ages 6-12) in fun science activities together at home using available household materials - kids will learn that science is indeed part of everyday life and receive valuable motivation in STEM. For example, using simple household materials, children can discover how craters on the moon are formed, build engineering creations such as "earthquake-proof" skyscrapers, or discover acids and bases using cabbage.  


Also experience 1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days - Scientific American's program to help connect educators with local scientists who wish to volunteer to visit classrooms to conduct talks, lab sessions or to mentor.  And become a
Citizen Scientist, through the program where adults and children alike can volunteer to help with real research
projects. "We'll have examples of these exciting projects," says Voss, "including Whale FM, a marine science experience which involved listening to and matching recordings of pilot whales and killer whales (Orcas). It's like learning to speak whale."


Scientific American MagFounded in 1845, Scientific American is the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S. and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. Together with scientificamerican.com and 14 local language editions around the world it reaches more than 5 million consumers and scientists.


Book Fair High School - Discovery in Science Stage Featured Authors: Sunday, April 29th, 2012 


The Book Fair has an exciting line-up of Featured Authors to appear on the High School - Discovery in Science on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at the Finale Expo! They include:

Lisa RandallLisa Randallauthor of Knocking on Heaven's Door, studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University, where she is Frank J. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science. Her work has made her among the most cited and influential theoretical physicists today, and been featured inKnocking on Heaven's Door Discover, The Economist, Newsweek, Scientific American, and many top-ranked scientific journals. She has been included in Time's "100 Most Influential People" and Rolling Stone's "RS100: Agents of Change," and her first book, Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, was named a New York Times "Notable Book" in 2005. 


Sheril Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of science. She is the author of TheScience of Kissing Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes and co-author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney. Sheril also hosts the popular blog Culture of Science, focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of understanding our world with great emphasis on the conservation of biodiversity.


Curt StagerCurt Stager is a paleoecologist, educator, and science journalist whose research over the last three decades has dealt with the climatic history of the northeastern United States, Peru, and Africa.  He has published numerous technical articles in journals including Science and Quaternary Research, has written extensively for general audiences in periodicals such as Deep FutureNational Geographic and Adirondack Life, and regularly blogs on climate-related topics for Fast Company.  Since 1989, Curt has also co-hosted Natural Selections, a weekly science program that is produced and aired by North Country Public Radio.   His latest book, Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth, explores our amazingly long-term impacts on the climatic future of the planet and its inhabitants.  


Joe PalcaJoe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.  Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics - everything from biomedical research to astronomy. In addition to his scienceAnnoying reporting, Palca occasionally fills in as guest host on Talk of the Nation Science Friday. Palca comes to journalism from a science background, having received aPh.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he worked on human sleep physiology.  With Flora Lichtman, Palca is the co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011).

A Perfect Partner: AAAS Combines its 'Meet the Scientists' Stage ShowsWith Stunning Array of 'Science of Our Senses' Exhibits!

AAAS LogoThe American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) brings its international reputation as the world's largest general scientific society to the Festival again in April - thrilling Expo-goers with its trademark "Meet the Scientists" stage shows and a stunning array of "Science of Our Senses" exhibits.


This year at the Expo, AAAS will complement these presentations with a dazzling display of exhibits on "Science of Our Senses" in which some of the top scientists in sensory perception will take Expo visitors inside the working of our senses - covering everything from how babies make sense of sound and why we hold hands to how robots sense touch.  


Mayim BialikThe stage shows are also scheduled to include a presentation by actress Mayim Bialik, star of  the hit TV show,The Big Bang Theory, who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience in real life.


Here are other "Science of Our Senses" scientists and their demonstrations you will not want to miss:


Saturday, April 28


Looking Homeward Toward Earth: The Power of Perspective --Waleed Abdalati, Chief Scientist, NASA;  Why Something Stinks for You, But Not for Me --Charles J. Wysocki, Behavioral Neuroscientist, Monell Chemical Senses Center; The Coffee Gripper: Engineering a New Robot Hand Using Granular Materials--Hod Lipson, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University; How Babies Make Sense of Sound --Rochelle Newman, Associate Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland.


Sunday, April 29


Noses, Tongues, and Intestines: Making Sense of the Food We Eat --Steven Munger, Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Touching Reality: Using the Sense of Touch in Robotics and Rehabilitation --Karlin Bark, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Mechanical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania; Why We Hold Hands --James Coan, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia; Our Gut Sense for Numbers --Justin Halberda, Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, John Hopkins University, and A Glimpse of the World through the Ears of a Bat --Cynthia Moss, Professor of Psychology, University of Maryland.


Student Creates a Festival Commercial for School District  

Jack AndrakaJack Andraka, Volunteer Outreach Team Coordinator for Ann Arundel County and 9th grade student at North County High School's STEM magnet program, has created a Festival Commercial for his school district of 70,000 students.


Jack joined the Volunteer Outreach Team and immediately signed up for the task of coordinating Volunteer Outreach in Ann Arundel County.  After several PTSA meetings, School Board and Science Board meetings, he was able to convince Ann Arundel County Schools to let him create a commercial for the Festival.  Due out before the Festival, the commercial will be shown to all 70,000 students in Ann Arundel County and will be listed on the school district website.


Jack can be found at the Expo in the exhibit he created for his school called Can We Stop the Drowning Machine: Retrofitting Low-Head Dams for Safety where he will give hands-on demonstrations to the math and science behind and dangers with low-head dams.


Jack AndrakaPrior to Jack's participation in the Festival, Jack found a love for science in Science Fairs where he was the only US medal winner at the international science fair INESPO and winning gold and silver medals at ISWEEEP international science fairs. He was a finalist at Discovery Channel/3M's America's Top Young Scientist Challenge. 


The Festival continues to support youth in leadership positions through the Volunteer Outreach Team  and Expo Volunteer Opportunities


Click here to volunteer for the Festival.


Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Hosts Expo Display Competition for its Schools! 

Project Lead the WayProject Lead The Way (PLTW) - a leading provider of innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics education curricular programs for schools in the U.S. - is looking for student teams from PLTW middle and high schools in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC to compete for the chance to showcase their hands-on science and engineering projects at the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, DC!


Students selected would be among 2,000 teams from other schools who will demonstrate their interactive, project-based learning displays April 28-29 at the Expo!


For their Expo displays, competing PLTW schools (workingPLTW Students in teams of four students and two teachers) are asked to create a proposal for an interactive display booth that will showcase hands-on solutions to projects used in the PLTW curriculum. The team finalists will showcase their proposal at the Festival Expo. All travel expenses and supplies used in the booth will be paid for through a generous donation provided by Science Applications International Association (SAIC).


For more information on the competition, including eligibility and application requirements, visit here.


 The Global Marathon, For, By and About Women in Engineering & Technology runs March 5-10, 2012


Women in engineering and technology have a critical role to play in defining how we live on this planet. You're invited to attend the 2012 global Marathon, the only virtual event uniting women around the world. You will gain-new contacts; more knowledge for success; and an appreciation of how women engineers are poised to change the world.


This free virtual conference features daily, interactive webcasts.

Register and see the full program here.   

New Sponsors of the Festival 

Space Camp & Aviation Challenge

Space Camp & Aviation Challenge is an educational program couples classroom instruction with hands-on activities and teaches teamwork, decision-making, and leadership. The Festival is thrilled to have Space Camp & Aviation Challenge as a Titanium Level Sponsor. 



WTOP 103.5 FM is the radio station for all of Washington D.C.'s news including news on traffic, weather, sports, living and of course all breaking news storiesWTOP joins the Festival this year as a Titanium Level Sponsor.  


The Festival thanks all of our Sponsors this year! 

sponsorsThank You to our Palladium Sponsors

Academy of Model Aeronautics


American Mathematical Society

Biogen Idec

Children's National Medical Center

Draper Laboratory

Dassault Systèmes Solidworks Corp. 

Destination DC

FEI Company


 Macaroni Kid

M.Y. Voice   
National Girls Collaborative Project
Nuts & Volts Magazine 


SERVO Magazine

University of Massachusetts Lowell

U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics in Schools 

Workman Publishing   


Thank You to our Titanium Sponsors

Aerospace Corporation

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)  

American Society of Agronomy

American Society of Civil Engineers

American Society for Microbiology

Atlas Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider 

Big Kid Science

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)  

Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute  

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Crop Science Society of America


Defense Threat Reduction Agency

DeVry University

The Engineering Place, North Carolina State University 


George Mason University

Georgetown University

George Washington University

 Georgia Institute of Technology 

Idaho State University

James Madison University

Johns Hopkins University


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers

National Museum of Health and Medicine

North Carolina State University


Polytech Institute of NYU 

 Rice Space Institute

Rochester Institute of Technology 

 San Diego State University  

SMU Caruth Institute for Engineering Education

Society of American Military Engineers (SAME)

Soil Science Society of America

Space Camp & Aviation Challenge 

The Mars Society

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 

The Pennsylvania State University  

Thirty Meter Telescope

Tumblehome Learning, Inc

 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  

United States Naval Academy

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office 

University of Connecticut 

University of Florida 

University of Georgia

University of Rochester

Vanderbilt University

VCU School of Engineering

Wellesley College

West Virginia University

Wind Energy Foundation  



In-Kind Sponsors:

American Elements 



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Science Spark is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization responsible for creating the USA Science & Engineering Festival and several regional Festivals including the San Diego Science & Engineering Festival, Bay Area Science & Engineering Festival, Boston Science & Engineering Festival, Los Angeles Science & Engineering Festival, Chicago Science & Engineering Festival, Houston Science & Engineering Festival, Miami Science & Engineering Festival and the Philadelphia Science & Engineering Festival.