Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote For Science!

This is just a reminder that the next "Born to Do Science" Café is coming up this Tuesday, that's right - election day! So do your voting early, then come on out to the coffee shop in hastings, here in Stillwater, OK at 6:30PM for the third installment of our brand new science café series, the first that we know of in the nation that's geared toward kids and families!

Our guest scientist will be Dr. Mostafa Elshahed, "The Microbe Hunter." Dr. Elshahed is a microbiologist at Oklahoma State University, and he recently received an $800,000 grant to assist in his search for a brand new phylum of bacteria! He has found the evidence that this new creature exists, and will be attempting to isolate it in the lab. Join us for a discussion of this fascinating process! Kids and adults will be encouraged to ask questions and will have the chance to observe some bacterial cultures with a microscope. See you there!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Café Attendees See the Light!

It's been a busy week! I'm happy to finally be sitting down to tell you about Tuesday's "Born to Do Science" Café!

I kicked things off with a brand new song, "My Molecular Eye!" It was another last minute effort, though I shouldn't really say that because I've been writing it in my head for months. Anyhow, I was very pleased with it, and it got a nice round of applause.

Dr. Hoff explained his research on bacteria that can "see" light using a photo-sensitive protein, which we may have coined a name for (a Google search will lead you to this page!) - the "Molecular Eye." Did you know bacteria can grow this big...

Just kidding! Dr. Hoff was showing us how small bacteria are, though. More like this...

Or even smaller! Here's a photo of our audience - we had a good mix of kids and adults. Look at all those eager young minds soaking up the science!

After we discussed Dr. Hoff's research we took a break for a hands-on activity. It seems some molecules have an affinity for water and an aversion to oil. This is part of the mechanism that makes the molecular eye unfold when exposed to light.

All in all, it was another successful session. Dr. Hoff joined Lisa, Evalyn and I for dinner afterward, and he and I yammered endlessly about the goals of the science café and different approaches to science education in general.

Everyone I've talked to seems very excited about what I'm trying to do, though it's a bit crazy on the surface - having scientists explain their research to children in a way that doesn't water down the science but still engages the kids! It's certainly a challenge, and I'll keep refining the format until it works the way I'm seeing it in my head.

I know we're already doing something right, based on the evaluation cards folks turned in - everyone said they would definitely come again, even if they didn't quite understand all the science. That rocks!

I hope we'll see you at the next one, November 4th, with Dr. Elshahed, "The Microbe Hunter!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"The Molecular Eye" this Tuesday!

Our second "Born to Do Science" Café is coming up this Tuesday October 7th at 6:30 PM at the coffee shop in hastings here in Stillwater, OK. Please come if you can, and remind all your friends, especially those with kids in second grade and up.

I had a nice long lunch with my guest scientist, Dr. Hoff (above) in preparation for Tuesday's cafe. I learned a lot about the "Molecular Eye." This is going to be a very cool session, involving microbial behavior, protein folding, and possibly even the physics of light. If we can get kids to understand it on some level (and I think we will) I'll be very proud, and so will they!

Congratulations to my Guest Scientist for November, Dr. Elshahed, on his $800,000.00 Grant!! Mark your calendars for November 4 - maybe he'll tell us how he plans to spend all that money!

See you soon!