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A festivus for the rest of us: Previewing the USA Science & Engineering Festival

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Mark your calendars: for two weeks in October, the U.S. celebrates science with a nationwide effort. Festivities kick off on October 10 with a concert of science songs performed by 200 children and adults at the University of Maryland. Events follow on each day–see the calendar here–and culminate in the free, two-day Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas on October 23 and 24. The expo will feature some 1,500 fun, hands-on science activities and more than 75 stage shows and performances on four stages. Exhibitors will host talks and performances.

The festival represents a collaboration of 500 of the nation’s leading science organizations. As a media sponsor, Scientific American is proud to be a part of the collaboration. For the expo, we will have a booth at the Wilson Plaza area focused around photosynthesis, using algae as plant of study to see if it can serve as a means to generate biomass fuel.

In conjunction with the hands-on area, our booth will also feature a “talk back” board. With prompts such as “I didn’t know that…” and “It’d be cool if…", the board will give visitors a chance to participate in the exhibit. Visitors will have access to laptop computers to explore the October issue’s cover story feature interactive, “Reinventing the Leaf: Artificial Photosynthesis to Create Clean Fuel." 

The booth will also have a video area where visitors will be encouraged to share their thoughts on being a scientific American. Footage will appear on a post-festival area of the magazine’s website.

This past Wednesday saw the kick-off media preview conference at the Marian Koshland Science Museum at the National Academy of Sciences. It included a simulated Albert Einstein, who stayed in character all day and wowed the kids as well as Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina, who thanked him for his article, "On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation," in the August 1950 issue. And yes, we’re busy working on a digital archive so that you can download bits of history like that. 

Image of simulated Einstein with Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina courtesy of

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  1. 1. Artu 8:00 am 10/1/2010

    Where are the comments?

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  2. 2. caseyrentz 7:16 pm 10/1/2010

    Who organizes the S & E festival? Is it an NSF project?

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  3. 3. 10Joanna 12:55 am 10/4/2010

    Founder and Executive Director Larry Bock is organizing the USA Science and Engineering Festival. NSF is one of the 500+ partner organizations for the Festival. Lockheed Martin is the Festival’s Host Sponsor. There are many other sponsor organizations like Scientific American. You can find more about the festival’s various partner organizations here: and find out more about the festival’s sponsors organizations here:

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