I’m guessing when you think of the Nation’s Capital, it’s likely your thoughts steer more towards politics and government, rather than science and engineering. Living in the DC area has always proved to be full of interesting places to visit and sights to see. I will admit that I take for granted the attractions of the area and haven’t seen nearly as many as are on my “must-see” list, but I have been trying to make sure I share as many of these activities with my two young boys as possible. The last month has truly been filled with timeless memories for all of us.
It’s not every day that you are treated with your first view of a space shuttle that has flown in space; unfortunately my first view would also be the last view of a shuttle in flight. On April 17th, I gathered with hundreds of members of the NASA Goddard community in a personal fly-over by the Space Shuttle Discovery on its way to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Space Shuttle Discovery was mounted atop the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as it made three passes over downtown Washington, D.C. before it made a personal flight over NASA-Goddard. There were many misty eyes watching Discovery as the shuttle program had been a huge inspiration for so many of the scientists and engineers that worked at Goddard.
After landing at Dulles airport in Virginia, on April 19th there were several ceremonies to commemorate the arrival of Discovery and the departure of the shuttle Enterprise from the space hanger in the museum. NASA even hosted a social media gathering for a lucky 30 guests to be part of the momentous occasion. I had applied to attend, but alas wasn’t selected.
The following weekend, my family decided to head to the Udvar-Hazy center to take a look at Discovery up close and personal. We weren’t the only people with this same idea, it was packed! She was a beautiful sight, covered in her patchwork of thermal blankets and the engine cone was still attached. It was awesome. While we were there we met up with Timmy the monkey and Carrie from ThinkGeek. It was so much fun sharing history with so many people, not to mention seeing the smile on my 3-year-old’s face when he told me that he wanted to go to space. We even left a little bit of GeekMom and GeekDad behind on a shuttle tire to be preserved in the Smithsonian!
As a finale for the month, our family attended the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival this past weekend. We were lured by a chance to finally meet GeekMom’s publisher Ken Denmead during his book signing for The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists, but stayed for the truly overwhelming amount of coolness we were surrounded by. I have never seen so many amazing exhibits in one place, the majority of them being hands on! Our family learned about different forms of auto fuel as compared to gasoline, we saw a snake robot, we were able to watch an entire line of MakerBots in action, we played with circus physics and met Sid the Science Kid and Super Grover in person! With two little ones, it was incredibly overwhelming, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and have already put it on our schedule for next year.
Did any of you have any especially memorable geeky activities in the last month? Are you from the DC area and get to experience any of these events too? GeekMom would love to hear from you!
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all pictures were taken by either me or my husband, GeekDad Brian.