Emmy Mann, 8, uses a magnifying glass to examine a slide during the 6th annual Discovery Day at AT&T Park on Saturday. Photo by Noah Berger

Banner Day for Science

Graduate Division

With activities ranging from NASA’s miniature particle accelerator to Chevron’s anatomy of a baseball, thousands of awestruck kids enjoyed hands-on scientific experiments at AT&T Park on Nov. 5, designing and playing with tools from robotics, engineering, and chemistry.

“We get to see all these young people turning into scientists, exploring their wonder, and meeting real scientists,” said Rebecca Smith, co-director of the Science and Health Education Partnership, which helped organized the the sixth annual Discovery Day on Nov. 5.

One hundred and fifty booths packed AT&T Park that day, attracting thousands in a celebration of science, and giving local scientists the opportunity to share their passion with the community.

The free event, which closes out the week-long Bay Area Science Festival, is building foundations for the next generation of thinkers as children and science enthusiasts gather for an afternoon of entertainment and exploration.

The Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP), who annually produce the fair with UCSF, ran a booth that challenged kids to use biochemical evidence to solve a crime at the library.

“Do we think it’s Tonis?” asked Alexis Krup, a first year biomedical student at UCSF, referring to a suspect in the book theft, “Or do you think it would be better if we do two experiments?”

The children crowding the booth chimed that indeed, more evidence was necessary.

Two parents who stood behind their sons as they tackled the mystery, were at Discovery Day for the first time.

“It’s a fun event, free, local, and it’s simple for the kids to understand,” they said, adding that they plan to return next year.

Smith said an important development in this year’s fair was the participation of a number of local high school organizations.

Students manned booths and demonstrated their own scientific knowledge to the community, working alongside their SEP mentors to educate the next generation.

Local high schoolers also came to advertise their clubs’ impressive projects to the Bay Area. One of these clubs, Team 254 (or The Cheesy Poofs), gathers students to compete in the annual VEX robotics competition with the aid of industry mentors and organizations such as NASA.

“We come and showcase and inspire and show all that we can do even at the high school level,” said Luciano, a team director, as a robot whirred in the background.

Club member Rafael has been involved in the program for three years and took on a leadership role with the newer recruits.

He never considered robotics a passion before joining, but the team exposed him to many new engineering ideas and even prompted him to apply to undergraduate institutions to continue developing that passion.

He felt that sharing his robotics project with children at the festival could similarly encourage others to pursue STEM careers.

STEM companies, institutes, universities and local high schools also got to expand the connection between organizations and the communities that supports them.

For some booths, the day served as a way to spread awareness of their cause. Google ran a booth promoting their new children’s app called ‘Science Journal,’ and CVS lessoned on how to maintain a healthy diet.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers showed many exciting concepts explored by chemical engineers; their representative Andy engaged passing children by demonstrating the creation of one of their favorite treats — ice cream.

Look out for Discovery Day 2017 next autumn, which promises even more education and entertainment for everyone.

As Andy said, while finishing his delicious ice cream: “Kind of sweet, right?”