I was so excited when I heard about the Young Innovators Fair #YIF2016 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. As a full time scientist by day, I love to try to find ways to expose my two young children to the fun sides of science and math, and this sounded just right for them.
We had an amazing time! My mom commented later when I showed her photos that it looked like a small science museum, and I had to say “Yes, but not so small!” That is actually a great way to explain the event, because there were just so many fun, interactive activities all throughout the site. They used a huge double space on one side of the Expo Center – it was a lot to get around and try to see!
There were a bunch of vendors and activities focused on Legos and similar building toys. My kids have never really gotten into Legos, so I was actually glad that we could just focus on the rest of the exhibits and vendors, since there was so much else to see!
Our first stop when we came in was to do a couple of activities at the tables with math-related puzzles and games. The kids made small paper pyramids to contribute towards a huge fractal pyramid being made throughout the day. It was cool to see how simple folding of 2 business cards can make a pyramid – I may have finally found a use for my old, outdated business cards! We also spent a while making cool semi-crystalline patterns with magnetic tiles #tilemeaboutit.
We then went over and the kids built their own parachutes from upcycled materials – a paper tube, the top of a grocery store plastic bag, and a couple pieces of string. The vendor had two large box fans pointed upwards to use to float the parachutes and the kids had a blast with this! They wanted to stop back by before we left to fly the parachutes again!
Just around the corner from there was a Star Wars themed vendor that was a big hit, since we recently saw The Force Awakens. They had costumed people as Stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself that were happy to pose for photos – lots of fun! We also gladly donated to Toys for Tots for the kids to have a chance to shoot dart guns at one of the Stormtroopers.
All throughout the convention hall were so many cool things that it’s hard to name them all. Adventure Aquarium and The Franklin Institute both had really nice exhibit setups, including the chance for kids to touch different live animals (and whale bones, shark teeth, and polar bear fur!). They even got to each hold a live tarantula – really pretty cool! I liked the activity from Adventure Aquarium to cut a fish tail shape out of craft foam, then the volunteers glued it onto a mechanical fish and they raced them in a tank full of water to see which shapes were faster.
The kids also got to make slime, make cool pictures on index card with shaving cream and food coloring (totally remembering that one for future home or classroom use!), explode a film canister with Alka seltzer and water, play with bread dough, make and test their own bubble wands, dress up as a cardboard dinosaur, and even more that I can’t even recall.
I understand they are planning to do this event again next year, and I definitely hope to be able to attend!
I am so glad that I received free promotional tickets to this event in order to spread the word on social media and post my review.