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Bio-X Kids Science Day inspires young scientists

sciencefair_2691What better way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon than by letting a gooey cornstarch slurry ooze between your grubby fingers.

No? Then perhaps investigating the bacteria of your nose (the outside) is more of an end of the week treat. In the case of my kids, attempting a tae kwon do sparring match with a reluctant robot was another great way to enjoy the tenth annual Stanford Bio-X Kids Science Day.

About 200 kids showed up to the Clark Center courtyard June 13 to explore 15 booths of interactive fun. In the ten years of this event, Heideh Fattaey, executive director of operations & programs for Bio-X, said that around 2,000 kids have come to learn about science and have fun – and by extension, to discover that learning about science is fun.

Other booths had an array of magnets to investigate, pools of water with a collection of toys for learning about mass and volume, and a demonstration of the 50 cent paper microscope developed by bioengineer Manu Prakash, PhD, and his lab.

Every 20 minutes or so, an explosion from air-powered, t-shirt-shooting robot interrupted the festivities (finders keepers on the t-shirt).

sciencefair_2771In the center of the courtyard, undergraduate student Tony Pratkanis stood watch over the PS2 personal robot, not far from a bubble machine that held several kids in thrall. The robot had, on another day, made an independent coffee run for the lab of computer scientist Kenneth Salisbury. On Friday the robot was set to dole out high fives, though that program met its match with my son's kicking.

Fattaey told me that the day is intended not just to wear out active kids, but to inspire the next generation of scientists who will be picking up biomedical innovation where today’s Bio-X faculty leave off.

Case in point, Fattaey said she talked with a high school student she knew who was going to be doing a summer internship in a Clark Center lab. “He said seeing all the kids have fun brought back memories of when he attended Kids Science Day,” she said.

Previously: Stanford Medicine community gathers for Health Matters event, At Med School 101, teens learn that it’s “so cool to be a doctor”, A day in the lab: Stanford scientists share their stories, what fuels their work, Stanford’s Clark Center, home to Bio-X, turns 10 and Bay Area students get a front-row seat to practicing medicine, scientific research
Photos, of Quinn and Reid Monahan playing with a cornstarch slurry, and of Reid Monahan sparring with the PS2 personal robot, by Amy Adams

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