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Published on March 12th, 2014 | By: Jessica McMathis

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‘Superbowl of STEM’ brings together big names to spark students’ interest in science

Published on March 12th, 2014 | By: Jessica McMathis

Writers from some of TV’s most popular shows, along with the biggest names in science, academia, and industry, will converge in Washington, D.C. for the USA Science & Engineering Festival this April. Credit: USA Science & Engineering Festival, YouTube.

 

Some of the biggest names in science (and Hollywood!)—along with an additional 350,000 visitors, many of them K-12 students—are expected to attend the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF), April 26–27, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

 

This so-called “Superbowl of STEM,” organized by Science Spark and hosted by founding and presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin, is designed to inspire a new generation of explorers, dreamers, and doers through exhibits, stage shows, and interactive workshops.

 

“Science is amazing…that’s our message to kids and adults attending the Festival,” USASEF cofounder Larry Bock says in a press release. “Staying competitive as a nation means we have to encourage more kids to think about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). What better way to capture their imaginations than gathering the rock stars of science in one place and providing activities they can really do?” 

 

Ray O. Johnson, another USASEF cofounder and Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer, adds: “We want to show students that STEM is fun, and that scientists and engineers change the world for the better. The Festival is a great opportunity to motivate students to pursue these disciplines, which we know are critical not only to our national security, but also to our economic strength and our global competitiveness.”

 

ACerS’s core purpose statement—“to advance the study, understanding, and use of ceramic and related materials, for the benefit of our members and society”—echoes those very thoughts. ACerS will join a veritable who’s-who of more than 750 exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors from the country’s best-known academic and research institutes, government agencies, and cutting-edge companies—along with entertainment heavy-hitters like Bill Nye the Science Guy, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe, Grammy winners They Might Be Giants, actress Danica McKellar of “The Wonder Years,” and more—slated to attend the 2014 festival. (Writers from some of TV’s most popular programs, including “The Big Bang Theory,” “Breaking Bad,” and “House, MD” also are scheduled to attend. Check out a preview of their session in the video link above.)

 

Staff Megan Bricker and Trisha Freshour, along with members of ACerS’s President’s Council of Student Advisors, will be doing continuous demos throughout the two-day Grand Finale Expo, with plenty of opportunities to explore the amazing ways (snowboards, space shuttles, nanobots, smartphones, and cotton-candy glass, among them) ceramics and glass touch our every day lives. They’ll also be showcasing ACerS’s new materials science kits and hosting contests (Boogie Board LCD tablet trivia and salt-water fuel cell car races) each hour.

 

According to the USASEF website, the festival also will include:

 

•The Nifty Fifty program—presented by InfoComm International—where top scientists speak at area schools.

 

•The first-ever X-STEM Symposium, a “Ted-style” event for kids with talks by science visionaries presented by Northrup Grumman Foundation and MedImmune.

 

Sneak Peek Friday—presented by the “Department of Defense-Celebrating Diversity in STEM!”—for school children and military families.

 

More than 20 partner events held in conjunction with the Festival, such as the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference.

 

(“Engaging scientists” are still needed for the festival’s Meet the Scientist/Engineer event. Click here for more information on volunteering.)

 

Student outreach, long a critical component of ACerS programming and advocacy, is more important now than ever, as the Society prepares for the launch of the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF)—a global partnership between industry and academia devoted to promoting ceramic and glass science, engineering, and technology. Opportunities for programming, outreach, and the distribution of teaching aids are just a few of the ways CGIF will work to promote ceramics and glass and ensure that industry is able to attract and train the highest quality talent available.

 

To learn more about the benefits of participating in CGIF, click here to contact Charlie Spahr, or call 614-794-5876. 

 

Feature Image: U.S. Army RDECOM, outfitted in the TESOL Iron Man-esque suit (click here for a recent blog on the smart armor) participates in the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Festival. Credit: U.S. Army RDECOM on Flickr (Creative Commons LIcense).


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