'Awesome' Discovery Day This Saturday

Students from all grades throughout the region will experience the excitement and wonder of science.

The Bay Area Science Festival kicks off its second annual celebration on Saturday, Oct. 27, with a North Bay Discovery Day at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.

The free event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will bring together students from all grades throughout the region to experience the excitement and wonder of science. The Buck Institute is providing project leadership and coordination for all North Bay BASF activities and is an exhibitor at this event.

“Last year at Infineon Raceway we expected 500 visitors at Discovery Day and more than 4,000 came,” said volunteer Carole Bennett, a recently retired instructor from Santa Rosa Junior College.  She and Linda McDougal, project coordinator at the Buck Institute, are co-chairs of this year’s event.

This weekend planners anticipate attracting up to 6,000 people from Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties.

“As increasing numbers of young people and parents come to these events, the word is getting around and more are eager to attend. Discovery Days are like taking the San Francisco Exploratorium on the road throughout Northern California,” Bennett said.

Planners anticipate having more than 40 amazing experiments, riveting demonstrations and exciting exhibits for young people to appreciate and explore. A team of Buck scientists will be on hand to make instant liquid nitrogen ice cream — a major hit at last year’s event. Youngsters will get to extract DNA from strawberries, launch rocket balloons, blow giant soap bubbles (while learning how soap kills germs), and save a robot patient admitted to a virtual hospital. The popular “Mentos Explosion” show will be back, demonstrating the chemical reaction that occurs when candy mints are combined with diet soda.

“The main criterion when developing exhibits is that they have to be hands-on and highly interactive. We want young people to start thinking about North Bay careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and select courses that will lead them in that direction. STEM jobs exist north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and we want kids to know that,” McDougal said.  “We’re working closely with Kaiser Permanente, Agilent Technologies, Santa Rosa Junior College, Technical Instruments, the Press Democrat, the engineering firm GHD, the North Bay Leadership Council and a host of other regional organizations to make this program a success,” she added.

“One of our highest priorities this year is to reach out to all demographics in the North Bay. We want to do as much as possible to expose all students to science at an early age so that they can realize that science does not have to be intimidating, but fun and exciting, and a career option for everyone,” said McDougal. To help promote Discovery Day, some 15,000 printed bi-lingual flyers are being distributed through schools in the three-county area supplemented with online email blasts inviting teachers to bring their students. Teachers at each school are being encouraged to provide activities for students and to add this special one-day program to their curriculum.

The North Bay Discovery Day is the first event of a 10-day celebration of the unique science and technology of the Bay Area lasting through Nov. 3, when a second Discovery Day, the festival finale, will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco. These events are part of the Bay Area Science Festival, established with a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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