By Belinda Raines
The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF) staff recently participated in the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, April 15 – 17. The Festival was an exciting opportunity for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers, students, and families to visit the CGIF exhibit to learn about ceramic and glass science through fun, interactive demonstrations. Based on estimated numbers, approximately 365,000 people participated.
The CGIF participated in the event with several partners from our industry: Allied Mineral Products, Savannah River National Laboratory, and Superior Technical Ceramics. Representatives from each of those agreed that the experience was worthwhile for all involved. According to Marissa Reigel, Ph.D., of Savannah River, “It was great to talk with people of all ages about science, specifically materials science and engineering and to watch their faces light up when we performed our demonstrations.” She added that the collaboration with the Foundation at the festival “was an excellent avenue to engage people about STEM and the possibilities of materials science and engineering.”
Those same sentiments were shared by Matthew J. Lambert, Senior Research and Development Engineer at Allied Mineral Products. “The students, even the some of the youngest, were very engaged and interested in understanding how we apply science and engineering to create materials that serve a tangible function in the world. The festival, as whole, was a huge success in promoting STEM as a field of study and career choice for those young people who will someday be the new generation of engineers, scientists, product specialists, technical troubleshooters, designers, manufacturing experts, industrial process analyzers, builders, and makers of all different kinds.”
In addition to staff members, several ACerS student members, who represent the most talented among the future leaders of our industry, assisted with the exhibit’s science demonstrations. David Shahin, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland – College Park, explained, “It was great getting to interact with people of all age groups and backgrounds, from shy little toddlers, to grade schoolers on a class field trip, to high school students, all the way up to parents and grandparents, and to share the fun of materials, and science/engineering in general with them. Being able to see that excitement and use it to share the knowledge and joy of what we do as ceramists was really awesome. Who knows, our demonstrations may have inspired someone to become a future materials engineer; that’s a really exciting prospect that makes volunteering totally worth it.”
The CGIF gratefully acknowledges all of our great volunteers who assisted with demonstrations at our exhibit: David Shahin, Victoria Blair, Ed Gorzkowski, James Wollmershauser, H M Iftekhar Jaim, Mimi Hiebert, Matt Reilly, Doug Henderson, Albert Painter, Eugene Ostrovskiy, and Michael Van Order.
The festival, which takes place every two years, is a collaboration of over 1,000 of the nation’s leading science and engineering organizations and provides the CGIF an opportunity to generate excitement about the use of ceramics and glass in nearly all aspects of everyday life. The organizers of the festival certainly fulfil the mission to “re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science festival in the United States.”