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Leeandria Williams
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STEM Descends on Washington;
Howard University Joins USA Science and Engineering Festival


WASHINGTON (April 20, 2012) – This weekend, April 28-29, Howard University will partner with Lockheed Martin for the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center at 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW, Washington, D.C. The festival is a celebration and exhibition of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for the nation’s youth, complete with a gamut of hands-on exhibits and interactive presentations.

“It is not just a place you go to see a bunch of demonstrations on science,” Gary Harris, Ph.D., professor/director of the Howard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility, School of Engineering, Howard University. “It is a celebration of science and you are what you celebrate.”

Inspired from a similar event in a small European town, Larry Bock created the first festival in San Diego, California. Its success prompted several companies to ask for an East Coast expo in Washington D.C. In October of 2010, the first USA Science & Engineering Festival on the East Coast was held on the National Mall. Bock, a science entrepreneur, contacted Harris to be one of the leading contributors to this event.

“In the early days of hoping to have this in D.C., I was one of the biggest advocates.” said Harris. “We were fortune that we [Howard University] were one of the first organizations to get on board.” 

Harris, along with 30 other Howard University Science and Engineering students, will be bringing the mobile science lab NanoExpress to appear as part of this festival. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the NanoExpress exhibits some of the latest science and technology to bridge the gap between the world of science and the general public. It travels the country on tour to middle and elementary schools, high schools, and national conferences. The Howard University students supervise the experiments and showcases.

“It’s one thing to talk about science or hear about science. It’s another to actually get the opportunity to do it,” said Harris. “Kids can actually work in the lab. The Nanoexpress is about changing people’s imagination so they can visualize new things that represent the future. People can’t do what they can’t imagine.”

In addition to the NanoExpress, the festival will feature a book fair, stargazing at the Smithsonian Science Museum, and over 100 stage acts that also include some Howard faculty.


Harris has been involved with nanotechnology since it was first explored in the early 1990s. In fact, it is the main platform for his radio segment “NanoTalk” which airs on H.U.R. Voices, Wednesdays 9 a.m.-10 a.m. EST on SirusXM radio channel 141.

“Even though it has NanoTalk as the title, the topics are broader than that. It’s really about science, engineering, and technology and how it impacts our lives,” said Harris. “We have also been using it to promote the festival.”

This year, the festival is expecting over 1 million participants from youth to adults. All attendees are required to preregister. For more information on the festival, visit or visit their twitter page #usasciencefest.

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