The LSA participated in the 4th USA Science & Engineering Festival – the nation’s largest celebration of STEM – over the April 15-17 weekend in Washington, DC. This year’s festival saw record-breaking attendance, with over 360,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers, and STEM professionals coming to celebrate and explore the STEM fields, including the science of language.


The LSA’s booth was a tremendous success, with thousands of young scientists and visitors enjoying interactive activities centered around the importance and fun of linguistics. The booth exhibited several engaging activities including the “Do you have an accent?” activity, in which visitors got their vowels measured to “see” their accents in action, as well as an NSF-funded interactive demonstration on tone led by LSA member Kristine Hildebrandt and student Allison Rue (Southern Illinois Univ. at Edwardsville). Attendees also got the chance to try their hand at the linguistic trivia prize wheel and learn about the “Word Orders of the World” (PDF), among other activities. The LSA booth was a follow-up to our participation in the 3rd biennial USA Science & Engineering Festival held in 2014.

More pictures of the event are available on the LSA Facebook Page.

The LSA would like to thank our student intern Kat Starcevic for planning and organizing the booth along with the rest of the weekend’s tireless volunteers: Edwin Ko, Emily Summers, Lara Ehrenhofer, Francesca Venezia, Ping-Hsuan Wang, Randi Deramo, Mark Visona, Anne Butler, May Chung, Brice Russ, and Wenxi Yang.

Special thanks to LSA member and CoLang Fellow Edwin Ko for designing the visual materials for the booth, Georgetown University’s Learning and Development Lab for loaning their prize wheel activity for this exhibit, the Maryland Language Science Center for printing the posters, and to the LSA Public Relations and Language in the School Curriculum Committees for creating the “Do you have an accent?” activity. We are also grateful to the NSF Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) program for providing travel funds for Kristine Hildebrandt and her student, Allison Rue.

For tips on hosting your own linguistics booth at a local science festival or community event, please review the LSA's new Public Outreach Guide. Booth and activity materials from this year's USA Science & Engineering Festival LSA booth are below. Some Vocoder activities with Praat files are available upon request. Please feel free to use these materials at your own outreach event.