On April 28-29, AERA joined numerous groups that provided over 3,000 exhibits at the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival, in Washington, DC. AERA staff and a University of Pennsylvania researcher and AERA member, Yasmin Kafai, introduced attendees to education research and the social and behavioral sciences.
Kafai and several high school students shared examples of learning through games and virtual environments. She provided provided attendees with handouts for creating a simple circuit and a monster via sewing electrical thread into fabric. Such e-textiles are an example of developments through the media-rich programming environment called Scratch, which Kafai helped develop. Kafai wrote about the use of Scratch in a 2011 Review of Research in Education article.
The festival attracted more than 150,000 attendees over two days and included exhibits, stage shows, and a book fair. Numerous scientists and persons from scientific and popular media participated, including Mayim Bialik from television’s “The Big Bang Theory,” engineer and author Homer Hickam, and the Planetary Society’s Bill Nye (the Science Guy).
The USA Science & Engineering Festival seeks to present compelling, exciting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in order to reinvigorate youth interest in these fields. Its advisory board represents a partnership among nobel laureates, national science societies, and industry, university, and government officials.