Lab's science and engineering a hit at two-day DC festival

Oct. 25, 2010

Lab's science and engineering a hit at two-day DC festival

From children and parents getting their first understanding of fusion ignition, to students and educators looking for ways to meet the planet's energy needs - the Lab's booth proved to be a popular spot at the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival Saturday and Sunday in Washington D.C..

More than 10,000 visitors stopped by the Lab's booth, during the two-day expo on the National Mall. 

The Laboratory exhibit featured an energy theme - a 3D ride-along that takes visitors barnstorming through the National Ignition Facility and the quest for fusion ignition, and a climate simulation that challenges participants to meet 21st century energy needs while keep carbon emissions to a minimum.

The Lab's exhibit was often crowded with science festival visitors four or five deep waiting to get to the Lab's simulations.

"This was a fabulous opportunity to show off some of the Lab's most exciting thrust areas," said Deputy Director of Science & Technology Tomas Diaz de la Rubia, who along with a staff of 11, helped work the crowds at the Lab's booth on Sunday. "It's great to see so many kids out here with their parents - all of them interested in learning about what science and engineering have to offer."

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is the brainchild of biotech entrepreneur Larry Bock. While Bock was living in Europe he attended a science festival organized by the University of Cambridge and decided he wanted to try to organize a similar event in the United States.

"Other countries organize these festivals all the time," Bock said. "In Europe and Asia there is an understanding that you need to get the next generation excited about careers in the sciences. They treat it as a matter of national interest, but at the same time they do this in a festival environment that's a lot of fun."

Bock organized the San Diego Science Festival in April 2009, attracting 50,000 people. The event was such a success the festival was expanded to take on a national theme.

The event featured more than 1,500 science and engineering activities, designed to entertain, educate and inspire.

"We're excited to have had this opportunity to share our love of science with the general public and particularly the young people who will be tomorrow's scientists, engineers and innovators," Diaz de la Rubia said.