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The 2013 SMASH awards ceremony

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Albert Einstein once said that creativity is intelligence having fun,” remarked Brigitta Pari, founder of the SMASH (Sports, Math And Scientific Hypothesis) contest in Arlington, Va. She was addressing a room full of students, parents, and other guests. The awards had just been handed out to participants in a contest which challenged its participants to make connections between sports and science. The awards ceremony took place on May 17, in the Education Center next door to the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium.

The SMASH contest was created to coincide with the 2012 grand reopening of the David M. Brown Planetarium. The purpose of the contest was to encourage elementary school children to become interested in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Current supporters include the Better Sports Club of Arlington, the Arlington Lions Club, the Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium, the Arlington Community Foundation, and Think Fun. The contest was open to all Arlington Public School students in grades K-fifth, and12,800 entry forms went home via backpack mail.

There were two divisions; K-second and third-fifth grade. The goal was to keep it simple. Students were encouraged to submit their entries on an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper, illustrating a connection between the world of sports and the world of math and science. The judges included Bill Readdy (former NASA astronaut), Michael Kimsey (Kimsey Foundation), and Kellie Caruthers (Arlington Artist).

Notable guests also in attendance for the ceremony were Congressman Jim Moran, DC United midfielder Kyle Porter, and the University of Virginia Professor Louis Bloomfield. Dr. Bloomfield, a Physicist from UVA, has worked with the Washington Capitals in a series of videos entitled the Forces of Hockey where the physics behind hockey is explored and broken down in creative and unique means. Topics, for example have explored friction and how a hockey puck travels across the ice, as well as how angles are important in hockey.

“One of our inspirations for SMASH was the Forces of Hockey series Dr. Bloomfield does with the Washington Capitals,” Ms. Pari said following the ceremony in a reception where the participants were treated to pizza and cake.

“Regarding the acronym SMASH, my son thought of it. We wanted little kids kindergarten up to fifth to appreciate that things that they love doing such as sports have applications to math and science,” Ms. Pari continued who is also a member of the advisory council for the Arlington Planetarium.

Following the ceremony, the participants were treated by the Friends of the Planetarium to a preview of their new show Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity narrated by Liam Neeson.

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