Science at the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll

While Monday morning got off to a rainy start here in Washington, D.C., that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 35,000 attendees or 1,200 volunteers, which included AAAS and Science NetLinks staff, at the 138th White House Easter Egg Roll celebration.

President Barack Obama. Photo Credit: Sarah Ingraffea.The skies cleared mid-morning, leaving behind a beautiful spring day for those lucky enough to spend time on the South Lawn of the White House.

In addition to the traditional rolling of the eggs, visitors had the chance to take photos with costumed characters, listen to the Obamas and others read picture books, watch celebrity performances, and participate in an egg hunt or obstacle course. They could also see cooking demonstrations and play tennis or basketball, dance, or jog in a fun run in honor of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" fitness campaign.

Organization for Bat Conservation director Rob Mies shows children a live bat at the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll. USDA photo by Lance Cheung. Licensed under CC By 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), via Flickr.

They could also hang out in the "Eggsperiment Zone" and take part in a variety of hands-on activities, from planting seeds to designing and flying kites to meeting animals, such as this Malaysian flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus), the largest bat in the world.

For the seventh year, AAAS was invited to have a booth in this area, and this year opted to combine the "Let's Move!" campaign with the National Park Service's 100th anniversary by focusing on emulating "animal athletes" that exemplify each of the four main areas of fitness:

  • Strength (frogs can jump ten times their length): Participants could see how far they could jump from a standing start.
  • Balance (flamingos can balance easily on one leg): Attendees stood on one leg for as long as they could, up to 30 seconds, then tried the other leg.
  • Flexibility (penguins, despite their portly figures, are so flexible they can scratch behind their ear with their foot): Visitors could learn how far they could reach toward their toes.
  • Cardiovascular fitness, or “Cardio” (antelopes can run and jump for hours): Kids could count how many times they could spring straight up and down.

Kids jumping at the AAAS booth. photo credit: Sarah Ingraffea

AAAS also had a brain fitness station led by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki and her grad students, who study brain plasticity, to teach kids how cardiovascular fitness is good for the brain, improving mood, memory, and attention.

If you missed out on Monday's event in person, you can still get in on the fun! The AAAS handouts from the event are available for download, along with several other fun fitness-related activities. You can also check out Science NetLinks' Exercise and Nutrition collection and the White House Egg Roll collection, with its egg-themed resources. 

photo credits: Bat Photo: Organization for Bat Conservation director Rob Mies shows children a live bat. USDA photo by Lance Cheung. Licensed under CC By 2.0, via Flickr. All other photos courtesy of Sarah ingraffea/All rights reserved.



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