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USA Science and Engineering Festival

ORAU partners with new event to help reignite excitement in science for K-12 students, parents, and teachers

Students enter the model “accelerator” exhibit created by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Neutron Sciences Directorate to show how neutrons are used in material sciences research. Photo courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

Neutron scattering research isn’t something most of us think about, but it helps scientists improve the materials we use every day. ORAU partnered with the Neutron Sciences Directorate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to make accelerator physics accessible to all ages at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo held in Washington D.C., October 23-24, 2010. Visitors learned how neutrons “see” inside materials and have improved everything from medicine to airplanes.

ORAU and a team of experts from the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL hosted an exhibit that allowed visitors to go inside a model of an “accelerator,” which is a structure scientists use to speed up particles to conduct research. Visitors were able to race through the accelerator, spin around the “accumulator ring,” emerge to “hit the target” as a proton, and free the neutrons!

ORAU is proud to have been an Official Partner of the festival, which was a collaboration of more than 500 of the country’s leading science and engineering organizations with the goal to reignite the interest of our nation’s youth in the sciences. The Expo is the pinnacle event of the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival held in the greater Washington, D.C., area in October 2010. At The Expo, children, teens and adults can explore all facets of science and engineering through hundreds of fun, hands-on activities and more than 40 science shows on three different stages.

Some examples include activities such as building an underwater robot, chatting with a Nobel Laureate, exploring the science behind the magic of Hogwarts Academy, and seeing a car that drives itself. From bugs to birds, kitchen chemistry to computer games, environmental monitoring to electronic music, the Expo featured something for everyone and is completely free of charge.

People across the Unites States were also encouraged to hold satellite events in their communities the same weekend that hundreds of thousands of people celebrated science on the National Mall. For more information the festival, visit