Posted by: COSI | December 9, 2010

A Woodstock for Science: Part III

A blog post in three parts highlighting COSI’s participation in the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival, held in Washington, D.C., on October, 23-24, 2010.

Post by Doug Buchanan, Guest Blogger
COSI Education Programs Marketing Manager

Saturday morning, October 23, 2010 dawned clear and chilly. Traffic to our booth at the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., started out slowly, but by 10:30am, crowds were building at what seemed a geometric rate.

Kevin making "COSI slime" in our packed booth.

COSI’s two tents were packed with guests of all ages by 11am, and by noon – amazingly–we’d actually run through our full-day’s supply of slime-making stuff (thank goodness for our Science Spots, which don’t use any consumables).

The original Woodstock had mud, but ours had dust: passing crowds stirred up great brown clouds of it from the Mall’s gravel paths, and soon everything in our tents (including us) was covered by a gritty film.

No matter; the enormous crowds were incredibly polite, inquisitive, and diverse, with seemingly every age, ethnicity, and language represented. Guests were very curious who we were and where we were from, and several made a point of personally welcoming us to Washington. Many were amazed we’d travelled all the way from Columbus.

What really surprised us though, was how many of our guests already knew COSI – we met former COSI members, past visitors, even a mom who’d done our overnight Camp-In program as a Girl Scout. Several guests lamented to us that Washington – for all its world-class cultural attractions – really has no equivalent to COSI. COSI Washington, maybe?

Guests to our booth were fascinated by the Science Spots.

As the Festival wound down late Sunday afternoon and we began packing, I had just enough energy to appreciate what we’d been able to do – not just COSI, but the Festival as a whole. A professional football game might attract 100,000 fans, but we’d attracted 500,000 fans of science. Probably, we welcomed over 2,700 visitors to COSI’s tents alone.

We’d helped inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and thinkers, and we’d done it right in view of our nation’s lawmakers, and right around the corner from the White House. I left feeling there’s more than just hope for the future of science and science education in the US; we met tens of thousands of young Americans who are already dreaming about it.

For more information about the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival, please click here for the Festival’s official website, or see COSI’s Festival YouTube video or Flickr photo album.


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