Science Wednesday: Gearing up for the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Aaron Ferster

Back to school season always seems so refreshing. I find the excitement my kids show as they crack open new books and get reacquainted with long-lost schoolmates infectious. And this year, I’m happy to feel like we here at EPA are part of it.

The science communication team that I work with has been enlisted to help plan the Agency’s exhibition at the Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival. The Festival is a grassroots collaboration of over 550 of the nation’s leading science organizations—including the U.S. EPA—to spark the interest of the nation’s students in science, technology, engineering, and math by producing and presenting compelling, exciting, educational, and entertaining science gatherings.

ScienceandEngineeringOpening on 10/10/10 with a concert of science songs performed by over 200 children and adults at the University of Maryland, the Festival promises to be the ultimate multi-disciplinary celebration of science in the United States. The culmination of the Festival will be a free, two-day Expo on the National Mall here in Washington, DC that will feature over 1500 fun, hands-on science activities and over 50 stage shows and performances on four stages.

EPA’s own exhibition at the Expo will feature the innovative work that EPA scientists and engineers conduct everyday to provide the information and products the Agency relies on to protect human health and the environment. We will have a great line-up of demonstrations and hands-on activities, including:

  • Changes: Fun with Chemical Reactions where visitors can explore the world of scientific observation and experimentation while discovering the potential environmental issues of chemical mixtures.
  • Green Chemistry for a Better Environment presents a nature-inspired green chemistry experiment where visitors can design their own eco-friendly, light-sensitive films using thymine, ultraviolet light, and food dye.
  • Bugged about Water Quality presents a hands-on demonstration that shows how biologists use aquatic critters as “indicators” that provide insights into the health of the nation’s water ways.
  • Meet the Scientist/Engineering will feature research scientists, toxicologists, statisticians, engineers, and others from across EPA to talk about their work, answer questions, and share their passion for protecting the environment.
  • Permeable Pavements will highlight how EPA engineers invented a greener way to pave parking lots and other surfaces to minimize rain runoff.

I’m really looking forward to bringing my kids to the Expo—and we won’t even have to play hooky!

About the author: Aaron Fester is the lead science writer-editor in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and the editor for Science Wednesday.

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