The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – a maestro at making science come alive for K-12 students, teachers and the public – will once more bring its magic to the Festival next year, returning as a major sponsor and presenting an exciting reprise of its wildly popular "Science of Our Senses" hands-on encounters at Festival Expo 2016 in Washington, D.C.
The return of AAAS – the world's largest general scientific society, and a long time sponsor of the Festival – is rooted in the common goals it shares with the Festival in inspiring young learners and the public about science, says Jeanne Braha, Public Engagement Manager at AAAS. "Public engagement – providing opportunities for members of the public to interact and have meaningful conversations with scientists and engineers – has long been a focus of AAAS's work," she says. "Joining with the USA Science & Engineering Festival in this common goal offers an opportunity for us to do this on a very large scale in the local community of Washington, D.C. where we are our headquartered."
Looking back on the excitement that AAAS's presentations generated among audiences last year at the Festival Expo, Jeanne adds that such positive feedback served as a source of inspiration for participating AAAS members as well. "For example, many of our members expressed enthusiasm and appreciation for the opportunity that the 'Meet the Scientists/Engineers' event gave them to meet with and mentor those interested in becoming scientists." In fact, she says, "We had so many AAAS members express an interest in the opportunity that we used two time slots for the conversations rather than just the one we had originally been assigned."
Building upon this momentum for Festival Expo 2016, set for April 16-17 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C., AAAS is bringing back its wildly popular "Brain Meets World: the Science of the Senses" exhibits, Jeanne says, plus working with the Festival to recruit local members and/or fellows of AAAS for the "Meet the Scientist/Engineer" program in the Expo's Career Pavilion area.
"The Science of the Senses" exhibits will take you deep inside the mysteries of how the brain processes the neuro-signals of our senses and give visitors the chance to meet leading AAAS-member scientists who are working in this exciting field. To further refine and expand this must-see exhibit experience, AAAS will be working with its Education and Human Resources group, headed by Dr. Shirley Malcom, a recipient of the prestigious Public Welfare Medal for her lifelong efforts to bring girls and minorities into the science and technology pipeline.
Says Jeanne: "Through these activities, we want visitors to know the many ways in which AAAS helps scientists and engineers capture the spirit of the Festival every day!"
On a wider front regarding its science education and outreach endeavors, AAAS invites teachers, students, and parents to access a variety of resources on its website, including: Science Net Links, science podcasts, and resources for educators and families. And for current and future STEM professionals, AAAS is proud to announce the launching of the Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science, which will train and empower annual cohorts of mid-career scientists from disciplines related to important science-society issues to lead in public engagement with science.
The Festival sincerely thanks AAAS and our many other valued Sponsors and Partners for helping to inspire the next generation of innovators!