Washington DC: USA Science & Engineering Festival

by Olivia Cole

This year, MakerGirl was able to attend the 5th annual USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington DC from April 6-8. Nishi and I flew there to represent MakerGirl and teach festival-goers of all ages about the basics of 3D printing.

We had printers running at the Deloitte booth, which had a few other stations ran by their employees. There was coloring, a station to learn about coding, and other fun activities. There even was a pancake printer one of the days! Some of the volunteers worked at our station too, so they were able to learn a bit about 3D printing as well. It was great meeting the Deloitte volunteers and learning about what some of them do for a living.

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Even though I came to the festival to teach about 3D printing, there was a lot I could learn too! With over 3000 booths at the convention center, there was plenty of cool STEM related activities for kids, and sometimes adults, to participate in. There were booths that taught about health and medicine, robotics, sustainability, earth sciences, and so many other topics. There were even other booths that had different 3D printers than the Ultimakers that we were using, so those were interesting to see too.

This event was huge, so it attracted hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life. At our booth, we were able to meet hundreds of kids and their parents and introduce them to MakerGirl. It was great to see how curious people of all ages were about 3D printing. We had a lot of conversations about how the machines work, the process of designing, real life applications, and the future of 3D printing.

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I loved hearing about what kids already knew about 3D printing. Some of them already knew a lot about it, while others had never even seen a 3D printer before. It was interesting how many kids were already comfortable with 3D printers because their schools have them. This really shows how 3D printing will become more and more common for people to use in the future, not just companies. This also makes me hope that MakerGirl will be able to reach out to more schools without 3D printers, so they can learn about them by using them too.

While this event was mainly for us to teach about 3D printing, it was also the perfect place to introduce MakerGirl to a lot of people from the Washington DC area. We are working on another MakerGirl Goes Mobile trip this summer, this time on the east coast. We met a lot of people that would be interested in seeing MakerGirl in their towns, so I’m hopeful that MakerGirl will reach a lot of them over the summer.

Overall, this experience has made me more confident in my knowledge of 3D printing and excited for the future of MakerGirl. With our recent expansion to other schools in Illinois, I can see us starting academies on the east coast in the future too. A huge thanks to Ultimaker for providing us printers to use, and to Deloitte for letting us be a part of this amazing event. I hope MakerGirl will be able to attend this festival another year. It was so much fun!

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