Please welcome our new guest blogger, Dr. Christina Richey!
Over 3,000 booths, 100 stage shows, a book fair, a career fair, and an estimated 100,000 people each day gathered in one building. At times you’d smell something burning, or you’d hear an explosion followed by squeals of pure excitement. Throngs of people would cheer on races across cornstarch and the occasional astronaut would walk by. All the while folks waited in line to meet people like The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik. In the midst of organized chaos on Saturday and Sunday, I realized one thing: I love science! The USA Science & Engineering Festival was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on April 28th & 29th and lived up to its claims as “the largest celebration of science and engineering in the USA”. It was, indeed, a large, boisterous celebration.
Credit: Christina Richey
I was a volunteer scientist at the booth for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in the NASA Pavilion area. For the entire weekend, we had a steady flow of kids and adults visiting to our booth to make star life cycle bookmarks, watch the JWST deployment video, or hold pieces of hardware. All the while they got to learn about the JWST from the scientists and engineers working on the project.
The entrance of the NASA Pavilion area greeted you with the music of Third Rock Radio, America’s Space Radio Station. Once you entered the pavilion area, it was everything NASA squeezed into a hallway of booths. Along with the JWST, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), Kepler, Fermi, Dawn, and MESSENGER missions were all represented, as were the Challenger Center, Landsat, the International Space Station (ISS), and many more. Each booth was filled with scientists, engineers, and educators on hand, ready to excite children and adults alike about what we do on a daily basis.