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USASEF NiftyFifty Banner 2015

The 4th USA Science & Engineering Festival is quadrupling the Nifty Fifty Program to include more than 200 noted professionals who will fan out across the Washington, DC area in the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 school years to speak about their work and careers at various middle schools and high schools. The Nifty Fifty will feature individuals who have made a major impact on the field of science and engineering either through research or through other fields such as law, business, government and public service.The Nifty Fifty (times 4) will be an important, high-profile group in the Festival’s mission to bring young students into personal contact with renowned professionals and to build momentum and excitement in the months leading up to the Festival’s Expo in April 2016.


Students at a Washington DC school perform a science experiment with liquid nitrogen during a Nifty Fifty talk during the 2011-2012 school year as part of the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival.We are looking for nominees from all areas of science and engineering who are dynamic, recognized in their field, and passionate about what they do – and who have the proven experience and desire to communicate that passion to young students in engaging, interactive ways.

The Festival seeks a broad representation of speakers, particularly with a diversity of science and engineering professions, ethnicity and gender.

The nominee’s ability to engage a young audience is critical, especially because these talks are not only intended for youngsters who may be interested in science and engineering careers, but also for kids who may not be as enthusiastic. The challenge for the Nifty Fifty speaker is to engage everyone.


Selected scientists and engineers will be scheduled to make at least one, four-hour commitment for a presentation during the 2014/2015 and/or 2015/2016 school year at a selected middle or high school in the Washington, DC, northern Virginia, Maryland areas or in the Northern California region.


STEM mentor and role model gives inspiring and educational talk to Washington DC middle and high school students during the 2011-2012 school year as part of the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival.In considering which scientists or engineers to nominate as Nifty Fifty presenters, Festival Partners are advised that nominees should:

  • be engaging, dynamic, high energy and passionate speakers.
  • preferably live in, or be within driving distance of, Washington, DC, northern Virginia or Maryland.
  • be able to wow your audience by including ample visuals (such as videos and other multimedia technology, cool demos, research samples, and handouts) in their talks, and other means (such as humor and personal vignettes) to engage students. It is important that speakers be able to customize their talks to young audiences and not use typical materials or language they might employ for talks directed to colleagues.
  • be able to submit to the Nifty Fifty selection committee video or audio samples of “kid friendly” presentations they have conducted in the past in classrooms or in other science education settings.
  • be able to communicate (or preferably meet) with the assigned classroom teacher at the school at least 45 days before the scheduled presentation to discuss the level of student understanding of the speaking topic, coordinate the contents of the talk, audiovisual needs, logistics and other matters. In an absolute ideal scenario, the speaker may also invite the teacher to tour their place of work to showcase the current state of research and engineering.

 Other criteria to keep in mind:

Albert Einstein mentors Washington DC middle and high school students as a Nifty Fifty Speaker as part of the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival.Speakers’ talks should center on three key areas – the science and/or engineering they are passionate about, their career path (including how they became interested in what they do, who or what influenced them as young students, and stumbling blocks or challenges they encountered along the way) and what opportunities they see for young people in their field. Nifty Fifty talks should be no more than 35 minutes, with an additional 15 minutes for Q&A. Speakers should also be able to stay at least 2 hours before or after their talk to have lunch or a coffee at the school with a subset of interested teachers/students.

Coordinators of the Festival will be on hand at talks to facilitate presentations, news media coverage and to videotape all sessions for consideration for the Festival website and future promotion of Festival activities.

Click here to see the current list of Nifty Fifty (times 4) speakers.


Fill out the form below to nominate a Nifty Fifty speaker.

Please Note - The Nifty Fifty speaker line-up for the 2015/2016 school year is now full!   Your nomination below will be considered for the following school year.