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APS at the USA Science and Engineering Festival

An all-about-science weekend isn’t complete without everyday physics

April 11, 2018 | Leah Poffenberger

APS joined forces with science organizations and industry leaders from around the country on April 6 and 7 in Washington, DC, for the nation’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo, presented by Lockheed Martin, drew more than 300,000 science enthusiasts over the course of a weekend. Exhibitors delivered thousands of hands-on activities for all ages ranging from national security to natural sciences and everything STEM in between. This year’s theme was “Where will STEM take you?” showcasing the many varied career opportunities in STEM.

For the fifth time, APS partnered with the festival as a sponsor and an exhibitor with popular physics demos.

The APS booth—part of a larger “everyday physics” exhibit headed up by the American Institute of Physics—wowed crowds with smoke cannons, a bed of nails (which was perfectly safe, thanks to physics), and other displays of physics at work.

Hands-on activities at 2018 USA Science and Engineering Festival

Many hands-on activities were available at the 2018 USA Science and Engineering Festival.

“We never had a moment without a long waiting line,” says Becky Thompson, Head of Outreach at APS. She estimates that somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 festival attendees per day directly interacted with the APS booth.

Keeping up with such a large crowd would have been impossible without the help of a number of APS member volunteers running demos and fielding physics questions. “Everybody won,” says Thompson. “The kids loved it—member participation was fabulous.”

The next USA Science and Engineering Festival will take place in April 2020, but APS members should keep an eye out for information on volunteering.

For more information, visit the festival website.

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