‘Night of Science’ at USPTO in Alexandria exposes students to creativity, career exploration

Alexandria, VA — November 6, 2019 — The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in collaboration with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) hosts Noche de Ciencias (Night of Science) in the Clara Barton Auditorium. The event draws hundreds of area students and their families. (Courtesy USPTO)

At the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, find out how a night of science can make “intellectual property” synonymous with the words “fun” and “awesome.”

Juan Valentin, an education program adviser with the USPTO, said that the annual “Night of Science” or “Noche de Ciencias” on April 12 will feature exhibitors from federal agencies, such as NASA, the Department of Energy and others who create hands-on experiences for kids from kindergarten through high school.

In past years, Valentin said, students got to create slime, make ice cream and conduct a range of experiments. It’s a hit with students and their families.

While intended to focus on students in high school, Valentin said, the event has been very popular with families with younger children, who dive in to the activities with gusto.

“In 2019, we had almost 800 people in attendance,” Valentin said. “It’s just so fun to see everyone running from table to table to see what they’re going to do next.”

The event is in cooperation with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

“I think just having those hands-on experiences with engineers from all over the world is really eye-opening for a lot of these students,” Valentin said.

The experience is designed to expose students to the creativity that’s rooted in innovation.

And for students who might not have been exposed to the ways that studying STEM can lead to a career, “It provides a glimpse into what their future could look like,” Valentin said. “We want everyone to realize that they are all inherently creators; they are inherently problem-solvers.”

The idea is to encourage students to consider careers in the STEM and intellectual property fields.

“People think of protection when it comes to intellectual property because you, essentially, are protecting one’s creations of the mind, but before you protect you need to do what? You need to create!” Valentin said.

While the emphasis is on reaching Hispanic students, Valentin said the event is open to everyone.

“Night of Science” or “Noche de Ciencias” is free and starts at 5:30 p.m. Visit the USPTO website to register.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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