Tag Archives: science outreach

Converging and diverging views in Pew Research Poll on science and society

Image credit – Wikimedia – public domain A report published last week by New Pew Research Center polled both the general public and scientists’ views on science and society. Although the public generally appreciates and regards science highly, when it comes to actual scientific topics, such as climate change and GMOs, views diverge. Pew surveyed
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Xtreme BUGs at Lawrence Hall of Science

Sometimes, it’s fun to add in a bit of arts-and-crafts to your research.

And so when I was asked to contribute to the research component of an upcoming exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science, I jumped at the opportunity. Now comes the hard part: how do you turn your research project into a display that is simple enough to be understood by young children, yet comprehensive enough to actually explain your research? How do you make something that is flashy enough to hold a child’s attention, while remaining serious enough to let the science shine through?

And why, oh, why, did I decide that taking three precious weeks away from research was a good thing? Because what I made was AWESOME, that’s why. (Well, that and the fact that I made a serious underestimation—as I always do—about how much time my grand ideas would actually take!)

The goal of this post is twofold: to encourage graduate student participation in museum displays, and to promote the Lawrence Hall of Science’s upcoming exhibit Xtreme BUGS.

Xtreme Bugs dedicated page final
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Summer Picks: Five Bay Area Science Adventures

Looking for something to do on your day off? Why not spend some time enjoying science from a different perspective! Science museums are a fun way to discover other areas of science, interact with fundamental experiments, and learn about the history of science and its pupils. When research takes a turn into the dregs, I’ve found that heading out to go on a mini-science expedition is a great way to rejuvenate my excitement for my line of work and light up that child-like wonder at the world around us. Sometimes in research, we get so lost in the minute details of the trees that we need a moment to step back and look at that amazing forest. Fortunately, the Bay Area is bursting at the seams with opportunities to wander out into the woods.

So, without further ado, I present to you my top 5 list of Bay Area adventures for the scientifically-inclined.

1. Exploratorium, San Francisco

The Exploratorium offers a great hands-on experience, to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Collections are extensive and include everything from microbes to the human body to psychology, Newtonian physics, the properties of light and sound, you name it. Demonstrations are frequent and, with its multi-leveled building, one can easily get lost in the experience of interacting with science face to face. The exhibits are playful and clever; the tactile experience is not one to miss. Put plainly, the Exploratorium has consistently sparked my curiosity and filled me with delight with all of their informative, puzzle-solving, thought-provoking features. Though a popular location, I’ve yet to find the Exploratorium stiflingly crowded. For those who would appreciate a more private and mature experience, adult events (After Dark) occur Thursday evenings. After Dark feature special themed demonstrations and ticket holders are able to wander throughout the premises until 10 PM.

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 5PM with After Dark events (18+) Thursdays from 6 – 10 PM

Cost: $20 (Bay Area Residents), $15 for After Dark

 2. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

CASLocated in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a must-see. Complete with a multilevel aquarium (my favorite), four-story rainforest biodome, planetarium, natural history museum, and living roof, CAS is absolutely  heart-stopping. Excitingly, several exhibits and shows feature wildlife and natural features native to California. Visitors are also given the opportunity to hear a number of talks about various creatures living at the academy,  join scientists in their Project Lab to get a behind-the-scenes look at CAS, watch penguin feedings and coral reef dives, and join in on interactive interviews with academy scientists. Several exhibits, including the shows at the planetarium, are updated every few months, so there is always something new to see! Moreover, on Thursdays, the academy throws NightLife events, often featuring musical guests, for the 21+ crowd. Each week, different special guests come to mingle with ticket holders and private after-hours tours of the academy are available.
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