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!"

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