SBP brings science to San Diego community at STEM

| Written by Susan Gammon
SBP booth at STEM Expo 2018

STEM Expo Day kicked off a week-long festival on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Petco Park. The event marked the 10th annual San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering Expo Day—one of the largest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) festivals in the U.S. The community outreach event provided learning and hands-on activities for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as adults and families to ignite their passion for STEM education.

“STEM Expo is a great way to get our future researchers excited about science, and I believe that’s why SBP’s involvement continues to expand,” said Karen Ocorr, Ph.D., an SBP faculty member who organized a research demonstration for the exhibit booth.

About 40 SBP volunteers, including faculty, postdocs, staff and graduate students, worked in three shifts throughout the day to talk with visitors and guide them through two sets of interactive programs.

Ocorr set up a station where children received paper lab coats with personalized name tags to explore the food preferences of fruit flies and how it affects their heart health. Visitors used microscopes and high-powered LED magnifying glasses to look at fly abdomens to see if they had eaten sugar (dyed red) or fat (dyed blue). Not surprisingly, the fruit flies prefer a high sugar diet. Ocorr shared videos of beating fly hearts showing that both high sugar and high fat are bad for heart function.

The second station gave visitors an opportunity to interact with models of drugs and human proteins made by a 3D printer, courtesy of Adam Godzik, Ph.D., director of the Bioinformatics and Structural Biology Program at SBB. Godzik’s lab also brought glasses for viewing a virtual reality program showing how protein folding configurations are used to design drugs.

The event, which was free and open to the public, had more than 130 interactive exhibits with hands-on learning activities.

In spite of rain an estimated 25,000 people participated in EXPO Day at Petco Park.

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