Monday, March 26, 2012

Calendar: Nature at the USA Science and Engineering Festival

Mark your calendars for the weekend of April 28 and 29. At the DC Convention Center there will be a huge, free event aimed at getting kids excited about science: the USA Science and Engineering Festival. (There are also some pre-events listed here.)

Speakers and performers include Bill Nye the Science Guy, folks from Mythbusters, Benjamin Franklin (or a guy who looks and acts like him), astronauts, magicians, and more. Sessions and exhibits will include the science of the magic of Harry Potter, the mathematics of jump roping, the physics of superheroes, the chemistry of Thanksgiving Dinner, the engineering of baseball bats and balls, the science behind special effects in movies, renewable energy sources of the future, and much more.

Natural history will be a tiny part of the 3000 exhibits at the broad-ranging festival, but I thought I'd point out some of the items most in line with the things we like to cover here at the Natural Capital:

Insects Rule!: "Buzz over to the Entomology section and learn about: 1) Bees and Pollinators; 2) Insect Zoos; 3) Cutting-Edge Insect Technology; 4) Insects as Human Food; 5) Biodiversity, Systematics and Taxonomy; and 6) Entomology organizations and clubs engaging in Entomological education and outreach."

Skulls, Scat, and Scales with the Audubon Naturalist Society: "Discover the fascinating world of mammals, reptiles, birds and more by getting up close and personal with real animal skulls, pelts, snake sheds, and replica scat models of our LOCAL wildlife."

Expedition Chesapeake: "Explore the trickle down effects of life in a watershed through hands-on experiences and web-based resources. Discover opportunities which span from the shoreline to the silver screen and include valuable first-hand experiences where the Chesapeake Bay watershed is the classroom. "

Walk on the Wild Side: "Did you know that there are millions of acres of land in the United States that belong to you? The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for more than 245 million acres of those public lands. You'll explore some of the natural and cultural resources managed by BLM as you search for clues from the distant past, solve a problem from the present, and learn how you can shape the future by choosing a career with BLM. "

Biome in a Box: "See how to make your own organic soil quickly...Vermicomposting is an odorless, portable hands-on activity that you can share all year with your students. Discover the easiest class pet around: the earthworm (red wiggler to be exact.) Learn about (1) the power of worms (2) "worm tea" and "worm poop" better known as black gold, and (3) the soil food web."

Ecology - Fun Science You Can Do Anywhere: "Ecology happens everywhere-in forests, rivers, fields, backyards, and in big cities...Come see and touch plants and animals that live in Washington, DC, that you probably never noticed before. Test your ecological know-how for a chance at a prize. Discover the flabbergasting things that are happening under your feet and all around you right here in the nation's capital."

Is a Plant, a Plant, a Plant?: "Are all plants the same?...Come measure plant traits to better understand how traits vary within and among plant species. Here we will build on the booth we presented last year. Our aim is to explore variation in nature and highlight that variation within a species can be as important as variation among species....We will have attendees collect data (plant traits such as leaf length & width, plant height) on three different species of plants as well as three different genotypes of plants we bring to the festival. We will graph the data and use them to discuss what variation is & why variation is important (can buffer against changes) in nature."

Maggot Monet: "Maggots, maggots, maggots! Create your own 'maggot monet' while learning about the usefulness of fly larvae in nature and forensic entomology (use of insects in mediolegal investigatons). Participants will get to paint their own master piece with the aid of live fly larvae trailing across the paper!" there's a good idea for an upcoming blog post!