NIH Logo
May 4, 2018
NIH Pavilion Draws Crowd at Festival

NIH hosted a 6,550-square-foot anchor exhibit Apr. 6-8 at the 5th USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF), the nation’s largest biennial celebration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Attracting a record-breaking crowd of more than 370,000 people, the event at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center was filled each day with enthusiasts of all ages exploring the mysteries of STEM.

“Strengthening the STEM educational foundation of our nation is vital to our future economy and the health, safety and well-being of America’s families,” said the late USASEF co-founder Larry Bock.

Saturday and Sunday at USASEF brought in roughly 150,000 people each day. Visitors filled the NIH Pavilion, where they could engage in more than 30 hands-on activities focusing on health, biomedical and behavioral science topics. They could learn about seasonal and pandemic influenza—and how researchers are working to combat the virus—or take a virtual reality tour of “the surgery of the future” operating room.

visitors to the NIBIB booth play an iPad game “Want to be a bioengineer?” A student at the NHGRI booth admires large strands of extracted strawberry DNA. Participants at right at the NIDCD booth learn how sight and smell, in addition to taste, affect flavor in foods.
At left, visitors to the NIBIB booth play an iPad game “Want to be a bioengineer?” At right, A student at the NHGRI booth admires large strands of extracted strawberry DNA.

Check out the video montage of the NIH Pavilion (https://dpcpsi.nih.gov/SciFest/2018Festival) to get an overview of all the NIH activities at the 2018 festival and learn about NIH staff represented among the USASEF Nifty Fifty program.

Participants at the NIDCD booth learn how sight and smell, in addition to taste, affect flavor in foods.
Participants at the NIDCD booth learn how sight and smell, in addition to taste, affect flavor in foods.

“As I walked around the NIH Pavilion, I saw the faces of children and adults light up as ideas were shared and connections made,” said John Burklow, NIH associate director for communications and public liaison, who stopped by during the event. “It’s the dedication of NIH employees as they share their passion for science that inspires the next generation.”

Attendees could also interact with NIH scientists at the hour-long “Meet the Scientist & Engineer” networking event. The one-on-one meetings offered students a chance to learn about the variety of individual education and career paths that are represented by IC employees.

At the NIMH booth, a student learns about phantom limbs and how her brain can fool her into thinking that a rubber hand is part of her own body.
At the NIMH booth, a student learns about phantom limbs and how her brain can fool her into thinking that a rubber hand is part of her own body.

The NIH Pavilion was staffed with representatives from 18 of NIH’s ICs during the event. Among them was NIGMS director Dr. Jon Lorsch, who volunteered at the NIGMS booth most of Saturday.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” he said. “What an incredible chance to inspire future scientists and to show thousands of kids—and adults—how exciting biomedical research is!”

NIH Pavilion coordinator Jennifer Gorman Wright estimates that more than 900 combined NIH volunteer hours contributed to the effort. “The NIH participation at USASEF would not be possible without all of those who volunteered their time,” she said. “I want to extend a sincere thank you to all NIH staff who made the NIH Pavilion a success.”

NIH volunteers at the Career Pavilion spent an hour speaking with USASEF visitors about their careers. More than 370,000 people attended the festival, which is the nation’s largest biennial celebration of science, technology, engineering and math.
NIH volunteers at the Career Pavilion spent an hour speaking with USASEF visitors about their careers. More than 370,000 people attended the festival, which is the nation’s largest biennial celebration of science, technology, engineering and math.

back to top of page