On the first Thursday of each month, I like to get to the hospital a little earlier than usual to greet our visiting scientists. We love that our visiting scientists come from different backgrounds and study different areas of science.
We want the kids that we teach to know that anyone (including them) can be a scientist- it’s not just for old white men in lab coats! We also want the kids to know about some of the many different areas of science studies.
Sometimes our visiting scientists study the wonders of outer space, sometimes they’re interested in different types of chemicals and how they react with one another, and sometimes they come to teach us about the creatures that live in our oceans.
Last week our visiting scientists came from Duke Biochemistry. Scientists Hannah and Nichole (pictured here) and their colleague Catherine did an incredible job explaining what microbes are, where we might find them and why it’s important to know a lot about them. They led the kids in a number of hands-on activities, giving them a taste of what it might be like to be a biochemist themselves.
Using a gel that glows under a UV light, and shaking hands with their classmates, students were able to see how quickly and easily bacteria can be spread between people. Once they had seen first-hand the importance of hygiene, they then did another experiment to assess which cleaning products worked most effectively.
The young scientists also had an opportunity to extract DNA from strawberries (see picture!).
And they were able design their own microbes, noting that bacteria named cocci- like the one pictured- are round, bacilli are rod-shaped, and spirilla are spirals.
Do you know someone who you think would make a great visiting scientist? Please get in touch, we’d love to know about them!
Don’t know any visiting scientists but you’d still like to help out? Why not consider volunteering?