Getting America Excited About Science and Engineering

For two action-packed days, thousands of people will descend on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to experience the excitement of scientific discovery, and NSCL and FRIB will be there to help.

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The first U.S. Science and Engineering Festival will attract thousands of students and science enthusiast to the National Mall in Washington D.C.

The first USA Science and Engineering Festival takes place on October 23 and 24. More than 350 organizations will provide more than 750 hands-on, interactive exhibits spanning aerospace, green energy, robotics, neuroscience and - of course - nuclear physics. NSCL Outreach Coordinator Zach Constan will join NSCL faculty and students at the event giving magnetic marble nuclei demonstrations and spreading excitement about rare isotope research.

“We’re expecting more than a quarter-million people,” said Constan, who also will be visiting classrooms the Friday before the event, including the class of a local teacher he met through NSCL’s week-long summer camp for teachers called Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN). “It’s going to be really intense.”

Besides the scaled-down, non-radioactive demonstrations, Michael Thoennessen and Brad Sherrill will be on-hand to answer questions about nuclear physics, NSCL, FRIB and Michigan State University.

The two-day extravaganza is the culmination of a two-week long effort to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. A similar event was held last year in San Diego, and due to its success, was expanded this year to our nation’s capital.

Other activities include bringing more than 50 of the world’s top scientists into classrooms around the D.C. area speaking on topics ranging from 3-D interactive military combat training games to the physics of superheroes, a K-12 video contest expressing excitement about science, a Rubik’s Cube tournament with a grand prize of meeting Professor Erno Rubik himself and dozens of satellite events throughout the nation. For a list of satellite events, visit

“This event is just a great opportunity to show off what we do and celebrate science and engineering,” said Constan.

So why even have a science and engineering festival? Executive Director Larry Bock put it best when he wrote, “Society gets what it celebrates! As a culture, we celebrate movie stars, rock stars and athletes and we generate a lot of them, but we don't celebrate science and engineering.”

For more information, visit