SIVB exhibited at the 4th USA Science & Engineering Festival, the largest and only national science festival, which features nationwide contests and school programs, including a ‘Nifty Fifty’ science speaker program and X-STEM Symposium. The Festival Expo was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW, Washington, DC from Friday through Sunday, April 15-17.

The event’s primary focus was outreach and encouraging student growth and interest in the STEM fields. Other Exhibitors included: Seaworld, CAST, ASCB, NASA, USDA, MIT, Carnegie Instruction for Science, NOAA, Disney, UC San Diego Bioengineering, Penn State University, USMCIRD, US Army and hundreds more.

pic1SIVB’s Exhibit Display: As they approached the booth visitors first saw our two beautiful banners – one on the history of In Vitro Biology and opposite it another introducing viewers to the many important roles played by In Vitro Biology in today’s world.  Once inside SIVB’s Exhibit Booth, we offered a display of tissue cultured plants provided by members: Carolyn Keller, Jessica Rupp, Kathryn Kamo, Tony Shireman, Ray Gillis, Yongian Chang, Valerie Pence, Areej Alosami, and Barbara Reed, with signs clearly identifying each and every source. An additional item on display was a Plant Tissue Culture handbook from Kitchen Culture Kits Inc (provided by Carol Stiff). On Saturday, Wayne Curtis and his students brought the bioreactor from their lab for an interactive demonstration of its functions to all interested visitors. A video game, Cell-ebrity Squares, which asked basic questions about cells, microbes and more, proved to be of interest to visitors of all ages (players could compete with a friend, one of our members or themselves).  Throughout each day a background DVD player rotated the showing of Immune Defenders (the immune system at work using live cells and animation), cell footage from the SIVB’s historical library, and the Student Video created by Ningning Zhang (providing a glimpse inside the SIVB at work and play).

pic3Take away items provided for our visitors included: small color puzzles of  Rous Sarcoma Virus (RSV) invading a cell, pens with SIVB’s contact information, Immune Defenders Cartoon coloring books, packets with sticky notes and paper clips including the SIVB logo and website, mini frisbees with SIVB’s logo and website, a flyer with the History of In Vitro Biology (a copy of Banner #1), and a handout taken from Valerie Pence’s CREW Handbook on Plant Tissue Culture (used with permission) showing how to complete a simple sterilization experiment. At the end of the conference, we donated the kit from Kitchen Culture Kits Inc. to a local high school teacher and also donated approved tissue cultured plants to interested students and teachers.  A sign in sheet was made available to all visitors to our booth throughout the festival period giving us some idea of visitor backgrounds and some potential for further contact.

“Hands on” Activities included:

  1. Cell-ebrity Squares video game from BPXI/O + SchoolMedia, Inc. (described above). Winners won either a Test Tube Plant donated by Valerie Pence or a copy of the Immune Defenders cartoon coloring book.
  2. RSV Puzzles –available for those interested to take or put together at the booth and stay to talk about RSV with one of our volunteers.
  3. pic4Member volunteers explaining the different stages of tissue culture and micropropagation to a variety of interested visitors by sharing their personal expertise, talking about the “In Vitro Plant Micropropagation: What is it and what are its benefits?” poster provided by Tony Shireman and showing/talking about the variety of donated cultured plants on display as examples of these processes.
  4. On Saturday Dr. Curtis and his band of lab members enthusiastically discussing bioreactors and demonstrating how they work.

pic5Staffing and Participation: The exhibit hours were Friday, April 15 (9:00am to 3:00pm); Saturday, April 16 (10:00am – 6:00pm) ; and Sunday, April 17 (10:00am – 4:00pm). SIVB members and some of their students assisted in the booth as follows:

  • Friday: Barbara Doonan, Ningning Zhang, Kathryn Kamo, and Yvonne Reid
  • Saturday: Barbara Doonan, Ningning Zhang, Wayne Curtis, Tina Lai, Katie Legenski, Krishnan Sreenivas, Erica Lennox, Olga Vinogradoca, and Kathryn Kamo
  • Sunday: Ningning Zhang and John Cordts

pic6Note: If you have ever been an exhibitor you know how tiring booth duty can be even in as exciting a venue as this festival.  Therefore special acknowledgement should be given to Ningning who worked all three days for at least 6 hours each day, actively reaching out to event attendees and encouraging their participation in our booth. Also to NBM Staff members Marietta Ellis and Michele Schultz who provided the load in and set up on April 13 – 14 before the event, and load out on April 17 once it was over. They stayed on site for the entirety of the exhibition assisting and interacting with attendees at the booth when staffing and attendance required.  

pic7Overall Festival Attendance: Based on estimated numbers from the Convention Center, approximately 365,000 people participated over the 3 days of the event with Sneak Peek Friday alone including more than 60,000 students, teachers, military families, government officials and members of the press. Saturday and Sunday brought in roughly 150,000 people each day. The festival hashtag #SciFest had over 125 million impressions during the week of the Festival, and the festival Facebook page reached 93K fans.

The Festival had an optional pre-registration form on their website to ignite interest for the Expo, and about 36K people pre-registered to attend. For statistical purposes, in addition to age and location, they asked for gender and ethnicity, although this was optional. They received a good response and translating this10% pre-registration info to pic8the 365K attendees, the following is their demographic snapshot:

  • Gender Breakdown of Attendees: Just about exactly 50/50.
  • Ethnicity Breakdown of Attendees: 34% Caucasian; 28% African-American; 18% Asian-American; 8% Hispanic; 1% Native American; 1% Pacific Islander; 10% Other/Decline to State,
  • Age Range by Grade:10 and Under 20%, Middle School/Junior High 22%, High School 18%, 18+ 40%
  • Geographical Breakdown by Region: Greater Washington DC – 85%(Includes DC, MD, VA, WV); Northeast – 8% (Includes CT, DE, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT), Southeast – 3% (Includes AL, FL, GA, KY, NC, SC, TN); Midwest – 1%(Includes IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD, WI); South – 1%(Includes AR, LA, MS, OK, TX); West – 1%(Includes AK, CA, CO, ID, HI, AZ, NM, NV, MT, UT, WA; and International – 1% (Including Germany, France, England, Egypt, Canada, India, Greece, Pakistan, and many others)

pic2SIVB Attendance Results: SIVB had an optional sign in sheet for people to list if they wanted additional information on the organization. We received 69 responses. From the information gathered, we had:

  • Gender breakdown: 42 female/27 male.
  • Age range by Grade: 23 Teachers, 12 College Students, 18 High School Students, 5 Middle School Students, 2 Elementary School Students and 9 Other.
  • Geographical breakdown: 20 from Virginia, 19 from Maryland, 3 from New York, 2 from both DC and New Jersey, and one each from Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina, West Virginia and the Virgin Islands. 14 people did not specify a location
  • Breakdown of their information requests: 38 IVACS, 39 PBS, 26 Publications, 11 Meetings and 21 with no specifications

Budget and expenses: The tentative budget reported to the board at the February board meeting was $17,919.  At that time, it was noted that there may be additional fees that could not be determined in advance, but the Business Office would do what it could to keep the event as close to budget as possible. After the event, the actual total expense to participate in the event was $18,341.77