Discovering ‘detectives’ of science

By on March 1, 2021

first_imgWalking through a sea of young students crowding the stage of Science Center B, Howard Stone neatly created order out of chaos, pairing children as he passed.“We need an A here,” called out the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who is also chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. “You’re an A? OK, here’s a T. There you go. Who’s next?”The exercise, pairing students who had been assigned letters representing the genetic code — A’s with T’s, and G’s with C’s — resulted in their creating a human double helix, neatly reflecting the complex sequencing that creates every living thing.“Our goal today is to help convince you that the world is an amazing place,” Stone said, speaking to hundreds of community and family members from Cambridge, Boston, and the surrounding area at the annual School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) holiday lecture on Saturday. “And that science and scientific ideas can help us understand so many things about the world.”With the help of children in the audience, Stone and his colleagues explored the history and science of DNA in two lectures titled “DNA: A Detective Story.” Children helped scientists to separate out strawberry DNA, explored DNA sequences for hissing cockroaches and butterflies, learned how scientists cracked the universal code and structure of DNA, and, in the final demonstration, showed how DNA copied itself.“It was wonderful,” said Mary Afari-Aikins, who brought her children John, 8, and Anneliese, 7, to the event. “It was so much more than I expected. This was our first time, and it’s a great opportunity. Everyone got to participate, and it excites them for their future.”“I liked learning about molecules,” said John, who took to the stage to create the double-helix demonstration. Noting that he wants to be a scientist when he grows up, he said, “My two favorite subjects are chemistry and engineering, so this was fun.”Begun in 2002 by Stone when he was a faculty member at Harvard, the annual two-session event now attracts 800 attendees. Anna Shneidman, a sixth-year Ph.D. student in the chemistry department, has participated for the past four years.“I look forward to it every year,” she said. “I love seeing the demos because they’re always exciting and interesting. I also really love interacting with kids, seeing how they react. They really get the idea that they can be a detective and solve a mystery.”Kathryn Hollar, director of educational programs at SEAS, said one of the benefits of the holiday lecture is that children and parents can come to the weekend sessions together and then discuss what they learned at home.“It’s great to have families come and learn about science,” she said. “It’s an important way to get kids interested in science. It’s great to see so many families returning year after year. We try to make it really accessible and open to everyone.”“Math and science are sometimes considered unreachable for kids,” Shneidman said. “It’s as if it’s OK to not understand math or to say ‘I’m not good at it.’ But events like this show that it’s within reach, and it’s a lot of fun.”last_img read more

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Minding confirms early promise

By on September 20, 2020

first_img Heffernan said: “She gave me a nice feel and is taking the right steps. She has a bit of class and hopefully she’s nice.” Ishebayorgrey continued his excellent recent form with a last-gasp win in the Racecourse Of The Year Handicap. Zunera appeared to have stolen a march on the field a furlong out when clear in front, but Colin Keane drove Pat Martin’s 3/1 winner into the lead in the dying strides to score by half a length from Zunera, who dead-heated for second with another fast finisher in Glimmer Of Peace. Martin said: “Colin always felt that he was getting there, and he’s a horse with great resolution. “He has an entry at Bellewstown over five furlongs but I’d say we’ll give him a break now. “He was behaving like a colt in the parade ring but it’s probably more to do with having a good few runs in a short space of time.” Keane completed a double when Toccata Blue got up late to land the Le Bruin Handicap. Ger Lyons’ 10/3 joint-favourite still had a lot to do when fellow market leader Maudlin Magdalen set sail for home, but Keane timed it right as he got up close home to win by half a length. Aidan O’Brien’s regally-bred daughter of Galileo found only one too good on her first outing, but she justified her 2-5 starting price with an excellent effort under Seamie Heffernan, who was happy to kick on at the two -furlong pole. That move put the race to bed, and though newcomer The Yellow Bus emerged out of the trio of chasing runners to take second, she was five and a half lengths down at the line. Minding confirmed the promise of her debut at Leopardstown when returning to the same track to land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden in commanding style.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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