SILVER SPRING – Hundreds of young people created robots, learned about pollution, built wooden cars and made 3D models during a daylong FutureFest at the Silver Spring Civic Building on Sept. 15.
The event, sponsored by the KID Museum, showed students how much fun science can be and how important it is to work together with people of all ethnicities. Events were held both inside and outside the civic center.
The goal of the festival was motivating children into “thinking about how we can make the world a better place,” said Cara Lesser, founder and executive director of KID Museum, which operates out of the Davis Library in Bethesda.
“We bring together the beauty and diversity of our community,” U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) said. Those participating in the festival are “really imagining how we will take the next step to make our community better.”
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith urged participants to “think deeply, think critically, think innovatively.”
Throughout the day, singers and dancers from countries throughout the world performed on stage and worked arts and science tables to showcase their native lands. Many wore traditional clothing from their native countries.
Eight-year-old Robert Ricketts enthusiastically put together a wooden car, carefully choosing weights and wheel size. He then placed the car on top of an 18-foot-long highway, only to watch it fall off the track about halfway through and break apart. Ricketts immediately grabbed his car parts and started again.
As he rebuilt his car, other children took cardboard triangles and designing shapes, checked out different lighting and tried to get a robot to pick up bright yellow balls.
“This is just really cool,” Ricketts said. “It’s really great. You can be creative and just build this car.”
Naveen Upender, a senior at Winston Churchill High School, proudly stood by a 3D printer he built from a kit.
“It took about three months,” Upender said. He added that while attending an earlier KidsFest (the former name of the event), he saw someone create a small red robot from a 3D printer, getting him hooked instantly.
Upender also showed those who walked by his table the results of his sneakers project. He takes mildly used sneakers, rejuvenates and spray paints them.
“It’s basically like creating an art piece that can be worn,” Upender said.
Each pair takes him about four hours to create. He then sells them for between $40 and $70.
Students from Newport Mill Middle School in Silver Spring showed off their low-flying airplane model made of bioplastics.
“It glides really low. It doesn’t need to go very fast to create lift,” educator Timothy Augusteijn said. It took him and his two eighth grade students almost two months to do the research and build the model. The airplane’s primary use is to transport goods, much like trains and cargo ships, according to Zander Gehman.
KID Museum opened five years ago and host family days every Sunday where children can learn and create projects. They also operate afterschool programs and camps and have a working relationship with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) so that classes can come on field trips and participate in the Invent the Future Challenge, according to Director of Communications Emma Starr.
“Everything we do is hands-on,” Starr said.
County Executive Marc Elrich said he is working with KID Museum and county officials to find a permanent space for the nonprofit to operate. It currently serves about 55,000 people annually.
The event featured the appearance of Seth Goldman, former CEO of Honest Tea and current executive chair of Beyond Meat. Speaking to an audience of children of different ages, Goldman told them to “pay attention to your gut” and listen to young people in order “to change the direction of the future.”
One example Goldman provided was talking to his children, who wondered why adults had so many choices for healthy drinks but none for school lunches. That comment helped create Honest Kids Drinks.
His involvement in vegetarianism and meatless burgers also began from a conversation with his children, one of whom just opened a PLNT Burger restaurant chain inside Whole Foods in downtown Silver Spring.
“You can change the future,” Goldman said. “That’s what we are here to celebrate.”