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Below The Surface

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Family Scientist Adventures


Usually, when people think about chicken wings, we think about what kind of tasty sauce to smother them in.  

Public Education Manager Bill Elliston, leads a  Science Lab
But instead of eating them, on July 11th visitors of all ages gathered at ECHO to dissected them!  This was the topic for the first of six Family Scientist Labs this summer to complement the OUR BODY: The Universe Within exhibit and our public programming. 


Additionally, a medical expert has been working with me to deepen our understanding of the topics we explore in the lab by lecturing, showing videos and leading a tour through the exhibit.  We have already explored bones and muscles, digestion, the nervous system and the respiratory system.

Exploring and testing the blind spot.


The lab and tours are fascinating in and of themselves, but for me the most exciting aspect is the interest and inquiry our visitors bring into the lab each week. For example, when exploring her sense of sight, one young visitor became super-excited to discover she has a blind spot. After experimenting with the activity for a while she noticed that a gentleman in the lab was having trouble and she jumped in to assist him. “You have to hold it like this”, she said as she modeled how to hold the card and helped him discover that he too had a blind spot where he couldn’t see the dot on the paper. These kinds of interactions have been happening across families – with care-givers helping younger guests, children helping adults, and individuals from one group helping guests from another.

While I know that there are expected outcomes to these experiments I have been psyched to observe real scientific exploration happening. When one group finished dissecting the chicken wing based on my protocol they asked if they could keep going to see “what else is in there.” One might expect this attitude from children but this was a group of four adults asking if they could continue exploring something they admittedly only think about in the context of sports events and frosty beverages. This enthusiasm from our visitors and their willingness to jump right in, examine and test every-day items with new eyes keeps me excited about my work at ECHO. And I haven't even mentioned the fun we had turning sandwich into poop when we explored the digestive system!

What makes a chicken wing work?
Working on understanding digestion.

We have a few labs left to go – 
Please join us at 1 p.m. on Wednesday August 8 or 15.
Great exploration awaits!













Bill Elliston is ECHO's Public Education Manager
Photos: Guests at various Family Scientist Lab workshops. (c) ECHO

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