For the next 10 days, visitors to the first MSU Science Festival can expect more than their average field trip.
Visitors will be able to view and participate in more than 150 presentations, ranging from astronomy to human anatomy, taught mostly by MSU faculty and graduate students.
The festival begins today and will run until April 21. Events will be held throughout campus and will welcome people of all ages from across the state.
Visitors also can take tours of campus, listen to lectures and engage in hands-on activities.
Hiram Fitzgerald, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement, said University Outreach and Engagement was the main organizer for the festival with the help of other groups and sponsors.
Today’s features include a series of talks, called “Say It In 7,” a series of seven-minute talks from MSU scientists about their research, with questions from the audience.
Tomorrow, Sunday and next weekend, participants can visit the Lansing State Journal Expo Tent, located in Benefactors Plaza, between the Old Horticulture, Natural Science and Student Services buildings.
April 19 is the School Expo Extravaganza Day, dedicated to more than 1,300 K-12 students from 19 schools.
During the week, there also will be events throughout campus.
Fitzgerald said many of the events in the tent will be for younger children, and the lectures might be more for adults, but there is something for everyone at the MSU Science Festival.
“It is geared towards people who are (ages) 5 to 105,” Fitzgerald said. “(We have) things that are available to all ages.”
Ruby Ghosh, research associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will be giving a talk on oxygen-sensing technology she developed and has been working on since 1997.
One way the technology can be used is to monitor environmental toxin levels in “dead zones,” such as Lake Erie, where algae blooms have starved the plant life, preventing any growth.
“In my lab, we have developed a new technique to be able to measure oxygen that is affordable, compact and most important, can be used pretty much anywhere,” Ghosh said.
Fitzgerald will be giving a talk Sunday on the positive and negative effects fathers have on child development, something he said he is looking forward to.
Rich Bellon, assistant professor in Lyman Briggs School and the Department of History, will be dressed in a 19th-century gentleman’s costume, speaking short readings from Charles Darwin, something he teaches to his students.
“I hope that people get a clear understanding of what it is that Charles Darwin actually did, rather than the controversy that surrounds him,” Bellon said. “I’m a little excited, it should be fun (and a) chance to talk to a different type of audience than I normally talk to.”
Darren Bagley, MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development educator, will be collecting bugs out of the Red Cedar River, weather permitting, and teaching people about different types of bugs and what each says about the water quality. He will have information available for people to identify each bug.
Bagley said it’s important to have hands-on learning, because students are more likely to remember the information.
“In science classes, you sit and learn most times,” Bagley said. “(We) learn by doing rather than just reading out of a textbook.”
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Graduate student Anne Royer also is doing a hands-on demonstration using Lego cars to show evolution and introduce an online program, called BoxCar2D.com. K-12 participants will be able to see their own vehicles evolve on two-dimensional tracks, Royer said.
“The (MSU) Science Festival is really exciting because it’s a chance for us to engage more people, especially younger people,” Royer said. “The more that people can see how science is relevant to their lives, the more they can get involved.”
Physics junior Rachel Little has been helping with the science writing for the event, acting as a bridge between the science experts and the rest of the public. Little said the festival has turned out to be much bigger than she initially imagined, and she is excited for her family to come to campus.
“I’m excited to get to show the family the cyclotron,” Little said. “I like doing stuff like that and doing stuff with family.”
All events will be free and open to the public, but some have limited space and require a reservation.
More information can be found on the MSU Science Festival’s website, http://sciencefestival.msu.edu/.
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