In the Community: Sharing Science

 Participating groups, including several from campus and JPL as well as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Pasadena City College, and the Los Angeles Zoo, hosted dozens of booths.  Photo: Leah Lee for Caltech

Participating groups, including several from campus and JPL as well as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Pasadena City College, and the Los Angeles Zoo, hosted dozens of booths. Photo: Leah Lee for Caltech

Seismology, solar cells, and space-time

More than 2,000 science enthusiasts flocked to campus on Saturday, March 31, for the first Science for March, a celebration of science held on Beckman Mall and featuring more than 50 science activities, TED-style talks, and lectures.

Sponsored by the Caltech Postdoctoral Association; the Graduate Student Council; the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Outreach; and other campus affiliates, the inaugural event aimed to make science more accessible to the local community, especially students in grades K–12.

Dozens of booths offered visitors the chance to explore areas of science including seismology, microscopy, space exploration, and antibiotic resistance. At the CCI Solar (Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels) booth, kids and adults lined up to make solar cells using blackberry juice and other household materials. At another booth, LIGO staffers demonstrated a "fabric universe"—a spandex sheet stretched over a Hula-Hoop—to show how weighted balls placed on top stretch and deform spandex in the same way the gravity of massive objects warps space0time.

Tara Mastro, a postdoctoral scholar in biology and biological engineering and co-organizer of the event, says the day accomplished the goal of engaging the curiosity of visitors, adding that it was especially rewarding to hear "people in the community asking meaningful questions about the concepts we were presenting."

Science for March will be back next year, Mastro says, with "more talks and more booths."

—Jon Nalick