U of C hosts city-wide science fair

By Dasha Vinogradsky

The University of Chicago and the Argonne and Fermi labs (Fermilab) will act as official sponsors of the 2007 Chicago Science in the City, hosting events during the two-week celebration aimed at furthering science education across the city.

“Participating in outreach like this and explaining what we do in science is a very important activity and the U of C is helping in sponsoring ,” said Sidney Nagel, Distinguished Service Professor in physics. “Scientists should jump at every opportunity to tell people what they’re doing because what we’re doing is interesting, it’s beautiful, and it’s useful, and it’s important in our daily lives and important for our future and future technology. So, if we can explain this clearly and with passion and communicate our passion to our audience, I think that can only be for the good.”

University faculty members will lecture on myriad topics and attend workshops and presentations at University facilities. Most of the activities are designed to appeal to those with a casual interest in the sciences.

The event, which runs from October 2 through October 13, will span a number of Chicagoland scientific hotbeds. Neighborhood science carnivals will give aspiring scientists of all ages a chance to interact hands-on with emerging sciences and technologies. The University will host a number of these carnivals, and participants will get a chance to tour Argonne and Fermilab.

According to a University press release, elementary school students visiting Fermilab will get to “learn mechanical and architectural principles building with Legos,” while other events will include free blood screening and the premiere showing of Iran: Seven Faces of a Civilization, a documentary that uses the latest technology to showcase the art and archaeology of Iran.

The University will also vie for honors at the Science in the City kick-off ceremony, October 2 in Daley Plaza, where a panel of scientists and educators will vote on the city’s top ten scientific achievements.

Many U of C professors are slated to present at the event, including Paul Sereno, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy, who will discuss dinosaur science. Ken Alexander, who specializes in infectious diseases at Comer Children’s Hospital, will describe cancer-causing viruses. Assistant Professor in chemistry Jun Yin will consider the future of drug discovery.

For the more cosmically-inclined, Don York, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics, will detail the complexities of studying the universe, while environmentally minded Chicagoans can learn the physics of “green roofs” from John Fredrick, a professor of the geophysical sciences.

The U of C has spent millions over the past few years to retain administrative control of both Fermilab and Argonne, citing both their academic significance and their ability to serve as a platform for advancing University prestige and branding.