Jul

6

A few weeks ago my wife found a brochure for the World Science Festival Street Fair in Washington Square Park and suggested we take the kids into New York for the day to check it out. We were tremendously surprised and delighted with what we found:

A selection of high school competitors from the FIRST Robotics Competition demonstrating their fascinating machines and letting young kids interact with them. My children delighted in tossing balls at the robots and watching them scoop them up or spit them out in various ingenious ways. We particularly enjoyed this as our neighbor's son had been a member of one of the teams that won the New York/New Jersey regional competition.

An exhibit from the NY Botanical Gardens that let the kids plant their own flower and take it home. They also had mortars and pestle and let kids make their own flour from wheat seeds.

A group of students and teachers from Rutgers University's Dynamic Physics Demos. There were magnets supercooled with liquid nitrogen ( a big hit in its own right ), demonstrations of the science behind a bed of nails (one demonstrator lies on a bed of nails, places another face down on his chest and another demonstrator jumps on top!), huge smoke rings that flew out of garbage cans propelled by sound waves.

Tons of interactive exhibits and demonstrations for the kids.

Music, magic shows, juggling.

Incredible large prints of glorious images from the From Earth to the Universe collection. "These astronomical photographs showcase the most dramatic views of our Universe including planets, comets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies." The Math Midway, a small interactive fair in its own right with lots of cool hands on activities which all demonstrated some basic principle of mathematics.

The kids rode the square wheeled tricycle and got a big kick out of large three dimensional tessellation puzzles and the Mysterious Harmonograph. The website has a great gallery and you can check out some of the exhibits by clicking on "Activities". Dominick Tao of the NY Times did a nice write up of Math Midway here.

My entire family had a great time and I can highly recommend this event for anyone interested in getting their kids turned on by science and math. There are plenty of exhibits geared toward young children, so you don't have to leave the little ones at home. The street fair is a small part of a larger event, The New York Science Festival which was founded by the husband and wife team, Columbia physicist Brian Greene and television producer Tracy Day. Last years debut of the festival was such a rousing success that most of the events for this year sold out in short order. I encourage you to sign up on the website for advance notice of next years dates.


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