By Lina Younes
This past weekend I attended the Second USA Science and Engineering Festival at Washington, DC Convention Center. The first day I went as a volunteer to help staff EPA’s booth and the second day I took my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. There was so much to do and so much to see that I wish I had another full day to really visit all the booths at the convention center.
The US Science and Engineering Festival had representatives from different federal agencies, universities, industry, and non-profits presenting numerous scientific disciplines. From environmental sciences, to robotics, medicine, forensics, aerospace engineering and beyond, all fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics were well represented. It was fascinating to see how all festival sponsors and representatives engaged children and adults in scientific activities and experiments that were educational AND entertaining. At EPA we had a Wheel of Science to test children’s scientific knowledge, a demo where children could “fish” and learn about the health of wetlands, a matching game to show how different particles looked under an electron microscope, and much more.
One area that got our attention covered the sustainability in agriculture. Through different tests and demonstrations, we were able to see all the elements that factor into the price of food production as well as their impact on the environment. How much land do you have for your crop? How much water will you need for the crops and/or animals? Will you use pesticides? Do you prefer to go organic? What are the choices you need to make to ensure the optimum yield for the most favorable cost, yet without a negative impact on the environment? There is not always a “simple” response.
The girls in my daughter’s troop were very eager to explore everything. So much to do, yet so little time. Given the large crowd, we were limited in the areas that we could cover during our time at the Festival, but we visited as many booths as we could. The girls even got a Girl Scouts patch for participating in the festival’s activities. I’m sure that they will view science classes in a new light. We all learned something new about how science affects our daily lives. I know I did. Do you have any science experiences that you would like to share with us?
About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.