It was one of those rainy spring days that begged to stay indoors, but when I see a STEM event in the area, I feel a strong obligation to drag Najwa and one of her friends out to it. Even when it’s advertised as for 5th through 12th graders. So off er headed to the Gaylord at National Harbor for the Navy League STEM Expo.
Our first stop was a table where they were checking for germs. By slathering Glo Germ on your hands then shining an ultraviolet light on your hands, it shows where all the germs are. And everyone had a ton of germs on their hands.
Next was a life size dummy who was shot up pretty bad. He had a bullet go threw his cheek and smashed some teeth, a few shots in the chest, his leg which also shattered a bone and various other places. The point was to show how to treat these types of wounds from putting gauze in the cheek and how to keep the blood from going down the victim’s throat and choking him, how to use a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, and so on.
The highlight of the event was a science project by Facilitate 2 Motivate. It was pretty loud with the music from the next table, the magic show on stage in the background and the crowd of kids elbowing to get a better look. Hence, I have no idea what chemicals were mixed together in this project.
But whatever they were, one was more dense than the other and when poured together, they didn’t mix together. Instead, like water and oil, one of them settled at the bottom of the cup while the other sat on top of it. The kids then took a Popsicle stick and had to mix the two together for two minutes, whipping the liquids, then pausing. And when the mixing was done, this massive thing came shooting out the cup. It was polyurethane aka foam.
Part of the expo was bit a like a career fair. Though there were many young graders there, juniors and seniors were the targets of some of these organizations. There were a couple of schools promoting their engineering departments [we visited University of Delaware’s Center for Applied Coastal Research], several federal organizations [the FAA was great] and then there was the coast guard.
The ladies crawled into the rescue basket to take a photo, but it didn’t dawn on them that they’d never want to have to get in one of these things. Once they realized it’s what’s used to pull people out of the water after a boating accident, it started to make sense from the flotation devices on the sides and bar across the top where the rope goes to pull them out the ocean.
VR goggles are always a hit with kids. And adults. They rode on a roller coaster and skydived.
But what’s always a winner with third graders is making slime. Though Najwa and Dayla have made a ton of slime, they’ll neve turn down the chance to make more.
Then there was the ubiquitous green screen.
Outside the convention center, on the water, was a research vessel. Northrup Grumman’s Sperry Star III and her crew was there to explain how boats used to require charts to get around but now with the use of gyros, GPS and a ton of technology that they research, develop and sell, boats virtually run on autopilot today. The content was a bit heavy for the ladies who were only interested in taking the boat out on the water. Didn’t happen.
So, we headed out to the Capital Wheel. When we got on, we were the only ones on the Ferris wheel so we completed perhaps six or seven revolutions before it was time to get off.
It was nearly time to head out. I was about to call an Uber when I saw a water taxi. It cost a bit more than an Uber, and was going to take twice as long to get to DC since we had to make a stop in Alexandria first, but since we didn’t make it out to the water from the Sperry Star III, well, why not. Who cares that it’s rainy, windy and a bit chilly?