Over the weekend of April 15 – 17, BASIS Independent McLean participated in the 4th USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. As the largest and only national science festival, the event brings together about 1,000 leading STEM organizations from around the country in a highly engaging program of hands-on science and engineering activities for all ages. The event was attended by over 350,000 students, teachers, and families from around the country, excited to get their hands dirty with thousands of STEM activities throughout the weekend, including demonstrations from our physics and engineering department at BASIS Independent Schools. The BASIS Independent McLean team met thousands of families from around the country and even saw the familiar faces of some of our founding families as they explored the organizations leading in the STEM space.
Joining us from the BASIS Independent Schools Physics and Engineering Departments were Mr. Ian Broderick, Engineering Subject Expert Teacher and Mr. Joshua Winters, Physics Subject Expert Teacher, from BASIS Independent Brooklyn. Mr. Broderick and Mr. Winter’s demonstration, called “All About Buoyancy” was an interactive exhibit designed to educate participants about the concept of buoyance using a hands-on, real-time approach. The exhibit was inspired by lessons that students could participate in as part of our elementary grades engineering class.
Attendees began by learning about density by answering the question, “Will it sink or will it float?” Students predicted, then observed, whether foam and regular golf balls either sank for floated. Students then tried to predict the behavior of a solid can of diet or regular soda. A display board gave extra information and visuals with the definitions of the key terms and examples of ship anchors and ocean buoys.
Students (and adults!) then moved to a more complex understanding of balanced and unbalanced forces in a fluid by observing the different results of soap bubbles filled with CO2 and filled with helium. It was fun to witness the looks on the faces of participants as they watched helium-filled bubbles float to the top of the exhibition hall.
It was phenomenal to see thousands of students excited to celebrate science. Mr. Winter echoed our feelings, saying “it was energizing to be surrounded by so many people who are excited by science. It was kind of like a pep rally for science!”
Our staff also had the chance to explore other exhibitions. As is typical with BASIS Independent teachers, who are always looking to be on the cutting-edge of their disciplines, Mr. Winter said, “walking around gave me a lot of ideas for what I’m going to do in my classes.”
Reflecting on his participation, Mr. Broderick shared, "When you walk around the festival and see BASIS Independent alongside the likes of NASA, NIH and most of the major universities it is a delight to be working for a school that can stand toe to toe with such powerhouses. For me, NIH had the most interesting exhibit which was a mock clean room with inert diseases on microscopes (anthrax, etc). As someone who has seen a lot of the science experiments performed, it was completely novel and a super fun interactive exhibit (you got to put on the white clean room suits). It will be great to get our students involved in 2018!
We certainly hope to repeat our participation next year and in years to come. As Mr. Winter shares, “This event is a great display of how passionate we are for science.” See you all in two years!
For another example of how demonstrations come to life in our science classes, have a look at how some of our teacher demonstrate inertia (don't worry, no one got hurt):
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