By Shawn Flaherty
What is the universe made of? What does science have to do with extreme sports? And how would you survive a zombie invasion? The answers to these questions and more are at the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo and Book Fair, hosted by founding and presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin. Designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, the Festival Expo is a free, family-friendly expo that allows kids and adults to participate in more than 3,000 hands-on activities and see more than 100 live stage performances.
“Science is amazing…that’s our message to kids and adults attending the Festival. 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?” explained Larry Bock, Festival co-founder.
“We want to show students that STEM is fun, and that scientists and engineers change the world for the better,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, Festival co-founder and Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer. “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.”
The Festival Expo, which takes place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in
Washington, D.C., April 26-27 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., is the free grand finale of the
Festival’s year-long science celebration. Taking the entire convention center, the
Festival Expo will also have a Career Pavilion, Book Fair—complete with signings by
well-known science authors, and multiple competitions such as EPA P3’s sustainability
challenge. In all, the Festival expects more than 250,000 people to participate.
Other components of the overall Festival include:
• All Year: The Nifty Fifty program—presented by InfoComm International—where top
scientists speak at area schools.
• April 24: The first ever X-STEM Symposium, a “Ted-style” event for kids with talks by
science visionaries presented by Northrup Grumman Foundation and MedImmune.
• April 25: Sneak Peek Friday—presented by the “Department of Defense – CelebratingDiversity in STEM!”—for school children and military families.
• All Week: More than 20 partner events held in conjunction with the Festival, such as the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference.
The Festival features science celebrities, explorers, astronauts, athletes, authors, and experts in fields like robotics, genomics, medicine, advanced manufacturing, and even
3D printing. Participating celebrities include:
• Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe (Discovery Channel)
• Basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar
• Bill Nye the Science Guy
• Grammy Award-Winners “They Might Be Giants”
• Author and Illustrator David Macaulay
• Author and Actress (Wonder Years) Danica McKeller
• Miss California Crystal Lee (Stanford grad, Miss USA Runner Up, and STEM advocate)
• Design Squad’s Nate Bell (PBS)
• Illusionist Apollo Robbins
• Stuck with Hackett’s Chris Hackett (Science Channel)
• “Super Woman of Big-Wave Surfing” Maya Gabeira
• MoneyBall’s Paul Depodesta
• Cast and crew from TV Shows like Big Bang Theory, House and Breaking Bad
Among its themes this year is a focus on encouraging diversity in STEM careers. Also
with more than three million unfilled jobs that require STEM experience, the event is
highlighting skills based and “do-it-yourself” professions—with the help of Mike Rowe—
to emphasize the dire need for skilled workers. In addition, the Festival is showcasing new technologies and their applications. For instance, Amanda Boxtel, who is paralyzed, will demonstrate how she uses a titanium exoskeleton to walk and makes it fashionable with a 3D printer.
Founded by serial entrepreneur Larry Bock and Lockheed Martin CTO Dr. Ray O. Johnson to address the severe shortage in science and technical talent, the event is the nation’s largest science festival and was developed to ignite the next generation’s interest in considering careers in science and engineering. In recognition of the Festival’s role in making STEM a national priority, Congress recently designated the last week in April as “National Science Week” and made the Festival a focal point.
To learn more, visit www.USAScienceFestival.org or watch the video at