USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

i-e3b171dd407317c14fb19797b0b600a3-NIH_Logo.gifThe National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s foremost biomedical research center and the U.S. federal government’s focal point for such research, is returning to the Festival as a major Sponsor and Exhibitor, bringing with it a bevy of high-caliber excitement in medical science that helped attract scores of visitors to last year’s finale Expo.

“After participating in 2010, there was really no question about our desire to return to the Festival,” says Bruce Fuchs, Ph.D., Director, NIH Office of Science Education. “We got the chance last year to introduce some exciting new ways to communicate with students, teachers and others about science – and we’re looking to build upon that at next year’s Expo.”

Adds Dave Vannier, Ph.D., NIH Office of Science Education: “It was great to see that NIH exhibits and demonstrations were so well attended last year, and through these exchanges NIH benefited as well, both internally and externally. The Festival gave us a chance to interact with the public like never before through engaging hands-on activities (which involved 22 or NIH’s 27 entities and more than 400 NIH volunteers), helping us to better inform people of what NIH is all about.”

In addition, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the eminent Director of NIH, also took an active role in activities last year by not only performing his catchy songs on DNA and science at a special Expo stage show, but by also personally visiting individual NIH exhibits and meeting visitors.

For its Expo participation in 2012 at the Washington. DC Convention Center, NIH will be taking steps to enhance the excitement of its presentations. “One such adjustment will involve us holding all our exhibits and demonstrations indoors at the Convention Center, enabling us to use more high-tech equipment,” says Bruce.

Here’s a sampling of the cool hands-on NIH presentations from last year’s Expo. Look for these and more in 2012 – all designed to wow and inform you about how innovations in medicine and science are improving health worldwide:

Experience a day in the life of an NIH medical researcher! Learn the process behind clinical studies. Perform medical examinations using ultrasound; find out your body composition using the latest bioelectrical equipment, and examine a real human brain.

See Mobile Lab Science in action! Immerse yourself inside two NIH partner labs – a DNA Mobile Lab which lets visitors experiment with real DNA, and a Cardio-Pulmonary Mobile Lab which will take you on a virtual thrill ride through the lungs.

Pique your imagination with engaging games and activities! Treat your brain to mind-bending optical illusions, a live science game show or have your picture taken with an infrared camera (including seeing the heat moving inside your body). In addition, play 3-D video games that put you right inside a human body battling microbes. Is your MP3 player too loud? Well, let Jolene, NIH’s hearing robot, check it out!
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Hear Dr. Francis Collins perform on the big stage! Expand your knowledge of genetics when you hear renowned NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., as he performs songs about the intriguing world of DNA. (Dr. Collins, a pioneering medical geneticist who once headed the Human Genome Project, is also known for his talents as a guitarist and for regaling audiences with original tunes about science.) And like last year, he will be on hand at NIH’s Expo exhibits to meet the public!

And at the Festival’s Book Fair, don’t miss the chance to meet Terence Boylan, one of the original “Rocket Boys” of NIH, who will tell you what happened in 1957 when the NIH gave him and his friend $10 to build a rocket.

At the Book Fair, Terence will appear as a Nifty Fifty speaker where he will sign free copies of the Rocket Boys of NIH book and DVD, provide readings from the book, and give away copies of the book’s rocket cartoon.