It’s not every day that one can find zombies, pythons, robotic patients and light-producing microbes in the same building. However, that is exactly what students and their families in the community can expect to encounter this Saturday at Stanislaus State for the sixth annual Science Day, a free event that welcomes the public to the university’s science department each year.
“All the departments in the college will have something to offer, from math to chemistry to biology to child development,” said biological sciences professor Mark Grobner, who started the event at Stanislaus State six years ago. “You can pet a snake if you so desire, look at various parasites, or extract the DNA from our cheek cells and take that home with you.”
This year’s Science Day is sure to not disappoint as each department in the College of Science will present students and their families with over 20 activities and a “Passport to Science” booklet to track their progress throughout the day. Activities include examining rocks minerals and fossils, exploring the universe in a planetarium, learning about amphibians and reptiles, extracting DNA from cheek cells, touring and potting a plant in the greenhouse, and finding out how to use science to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Both Ag International and Turlock Irrigation District will also have trailers at the event, the latter of which will educate students on Tuolumne River basin, water cycle, solar power and energy conservation. Weather permitting, there will also be tours of the Trans-California pathway, which is an outdoor arboretum featuring plant communities native to a transect of California from the Central Valley to the High Sierra.
“We want to get kids and their parents involved as well,” said Grobner. “It’s always heartwarming to see parents and kids working on an activity together or grandparents with their grandkids. This is a chance for them to get an idea of what college is about, too.”
Grobner said he originally decided to bring Science Day to Stanislaus State six years ago for two reasons, one of which was to introduce the community to the new science building in an open-house format. He was also prompted to host the free event for the public as a way to increase scientific literacy throughout the community and expose young students to the sciences.
“We want to get them excited and interested in science at a young age so they can come here and excel in the sciences,” said Grobner. “A lot of students are not as prepared as they should be for the rigors of science, so hopefully getting them and their parents engaged will get them serious about their studies and consider the sciences as a future career.
“This is to give them initial exposure and hope that we spark that excitement in a student that will then come here and take on one of the STEM disciplines as a pathway to their career. We just want to get people excited about science in this day and age,” continued Grobner.
Organized by faculty in the College of Science with support from the Office of Service Learning, the event has drawn in more than 2,000 visitors each of the past five years. Grobner expects this year to bring in even more visitors as several schools in Turlock and surrounding communities have committed to sending buses of students to the event.
Stanislaus State’s sixth annual Science Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Naraghi Hall of Science, the Science 1 Building and the greenhouse. The event is free and open to the public. Various lunch and snack items will be available for purchase.