Educators in the United States are trying to make science, technology, engineering and math more appealing to students. Organizers of the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington Friday through Sunday (April 27-29) hope the hands-on exhibits help to accomplish that goal.
To these children, it's all fun and games. But the marbles in this so-called "Chaos Machine" teach them about physics, gravity and more, says exhibitor Tony Montuori.
"It also teaches kids all kinds of useful skills about debugging, engineering, because you look at the track and you figure out, 'Hey, what's wrong with it? How can I make it better?'" Montuori noted.
From robotic cars to wheels on Mars, exhibitors showed everything from human revolutions to a different kind of spin that shows how the body works.
There were robots controlled by sensors on clothes and one controlled by an iPad.
Anousheh Ansari traveled to the International Space Station at her own expense and hopes to inspire students.
"I think this is a wonderful event where they get exposure to different areas of science and can think about some career opportunities, things they can do when they enter the job market," Ansari said.
And there is plenty of interest in NASA's next generation space capsule, the Orion.
"I'm glad to see the whole space program is going on because, I don't know, it seemed to me at least that all was kind of dead, but it's alive and well and looks great," said Fourteen year-old student Andrew Clancy.
And there was a chance to fly an F-16 Fighting Falcon cockpit demonstrator and see drones, robots, robots and more robots.
Daria Jordan of Spelman College showed off the robot she programmed.
"The project name is 'Beyoncebot' and is using a humanoid robot to address childhood obesity," Jordan explained.
Students also got a chance to walk across water, see the air, and feel the air in a hurricane simulator.
They also checked out observatories and observations from a historical figure, Albert Einstein.
Organizers say the goal is to get kids as excited about scientists and engineers as they are about Hollywood celebrities and sports stars.