Author: Shahida Flores | Category: Of Interest | April 11, 2017
The second annual Science Fiesta took place on Sunday, April 9, at the Witte Museum just north of downtown San Antonio. Science Fiesta is a free, fun, family-oriented event geared towards bridging the gap between communities and science by providing interactive demonstrations and educational information.
The event was organized by SA Science, a local nonprofit and graduate students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Primary organizers for this year’s event, Master of Science in Immunology and Infection student Alex Kirkpatrick, and Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student Laura Avena, emphasized that “Science Fiesta makes science accessible to the San Antonio community who might otherwise think that science is unattainable or foreign” and “it does so in a fun way that reaches and engages both adults and children with a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics.”
Indeed, the event featured over 50 indoor and outdoor exhibitors showcasing a variety of interactive booths focused on STEM topics such as robotics, medicine, dentistry, neuroscience, pharmacology, microbiology, immunology, geology, radiology, astronomy, meteorology, respiratory therapy and much more.
Many of the exhibitors highlighted the importance of being able to participate in an event like Science Fiesta. Jesus Romo, UTSA Ph.D. student and President of UTSA SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science), a society focused on helping minority students pursue a graduate level degree or career in science, said “We love science communication. It’s crucial for us as scientists to work with the public and to be able to explain our science to them. This event also gives us a chance to interact with kids who might be interested in science and get them to be excited about the types of work that we are doing.”
Meghan Guzman, Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student and Vice President of WISDOM (Women in Science: Development, Outreach and Mentorship), a group promoting and supporting women in science, also indicated how important it is to connect with young children, “Outreach is so incredibly important because it gives us the opportunity to engage kids, especially young girls, to love and pursue science careers. We hope our organization and the work we do will inspire the next generation of male and female scientists.”
Community outreach and education was certainly an integral part of the event. Rajitha Reddy, medical student and member of UT Health San Antonio’s Frontera de Salud, an organization that provides free preventative health screenings in underserved areas, stated that, “We really want to reach out to our community and make sure that everyone knows the importance of these types of screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac problems and we can do that through these types of events.”
The UTSA SACNAS booth demonstrated biofilm, bioluminescent bacteria and brains, the WISDOM booth made homemade ice-cream and non-Newtonian fluids, and the Frontera de Salud booth offered free blood pressure and glucose testing.
The parents and children that I spoke to enthusiastically agreed that the event was a huge success in promoting science in the community.
Many indicated that their favorite exhibits allowed for hands-on interactions such as touching human organs like the brain and lungs, viewing bacteria and worms under the microscope, feeling the snow polymer grow after adding water and learning how much sugar is in everyday food and drink items.
Science Fiesta also incorporated research poster presentations by undergraduate and graduate students, a science logo competition for elementary and secondary schools and several talks by guest speakers which included UTSA Astronomer, Bryan Tobias, San Antonio councilman and mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg, Harvard University stem cell scientist Daisy Robinton, Ph.D. and Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist Adrienn Luspay-Kuti, Ph.D.
The third annual Science Fiesta is set to take place on April 21st, 2018 at the Witte Museum. For more information on how to get involved, please visit sciencefiesta.org.
This article was written by Shahida Flores in the Cell Biology, Genetics and Molecular Medicine discipline within the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program. The "Beyond The Bench" series features articles written by students and postdoctoral fellows at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.