September 2010

A Capital Celebration of Science

ASBMB will be participating in the USA Science and Engineering Festival this October. Read on to find out about this exciting event, which will combine Nobel laureates, science cheerleaders, a Rubik's Cube tournament and much more.


Science-FestivalWhat makes science fun and cool? If you don’t know, you can find out at the inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival, Oct. 10 - 24. The nearly month long festival culminates in an expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For two days, Oct. 23 and Oct. 24, the Mall will be transformed into a playground of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. More than 400 organizations, government agencies, universities, colleges, research institutes and K-12 schools have partnered with the festival organizers to host myriad exhibits filled with hands-on learning activities for people of all ages.

This is not your average science fair. For starters, 12 Nobel laureates sit on the festival’s advisory board. During the week leading up to the expo, students in many U.S. cities will get a chance to “lunch with a laureate” — an opportunity for small groups of middle and high school students to engage in informal conversations with Nobel prize-winning scientists. The festival also has a “Nifty Fifty” group of notable science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals, such as Bonnie Bassler, Francis Collins and Mark Perks (representing the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), who will visit D.C.-area middle and high schools throughout October to talk to students about science and their careers.

On the first day of the expo, a Rubik’s Cube tournament, open to all schools and community youth organizations in the greater Washington, D.C., area, will be attended by Ernő Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube. For those with a flair for science and art, the expo will host live musical performances, comedy, theater and magic shows, guaranteed to energize, inspire and impress. For example, the TalkingScience Cabaret, a project of the Science Friday Initiative, will combine scientist-musicians and stage acts to illustrate scientific principles. And, Darlene Cavalier, founder of the Science Cheerleader and former cheerleader for the Philadelphia 76ers, will partner with Going Pro Entertainment, a nationwide network of cheerleading and dance consultants, to showcase professional cheerleaders-turned-scientists.

Visitors to the ASBMB "Taste of Genetics" booth will make DNA out of licorice and marshmallows.

ASBMB will be hosting two exhibits on the Mall, titled “Molecular Machines” and “A Taste of Genetics.” In the “Molecular Machines” exhibit, we will work with Tim Herman, director of the Milwaukee School of Engineering Center for BioMolecular Modeling (click HERE for information on the CBM high school outreach SMART program) to teach visitors about shapes and interactions of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates using molecular models and cutting-edge computer visualization tools. Visitors to “A Taste of Genetics” will learn basic DNA structure and base-pairing rules by building double-stranded DNA models using licorice and marshmallows.

You can join the fun by volunteering to work at the ASBMB exhibits on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24. To thank you for your efforts, you’ll receive an ASBMB T-shirt.

In addition to the Mall activities, a number of satellite events are taking place during the same weekend across the country. So, even if you can’t make it to Washington, D.C., you still can teach, learn and celebrate science.

Weiyi Zhao ( is the ASBMB manager of education and professional development.

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