Hopkins basic sciences researchers think "science is cool," and they want to show neighborhood children why they think so. On Friday, March 28, 90 elementary school students will spend the day in the laboratories of some of the most prominent scientists in the world for the second annual Johns Hopkins Community Science Day.
Eighteen researchers at the School of Medicine will offer hands-on science demonstrations for the entire fifth-grade class of Tench Tilghman Elementary School in East Baltimore. The children will watch scientists coax DNA from cells, learn how the brain makes optical illusions and see a microscopic view of the parasites that cause African sleeping Sickness, among other things.
Rhoda Alani, an assistant professor of oncology, initiated Community Science Day last year because she was looking for a way to encourage children in the East Baltimore community to aspire toward careers in science. "All of the kids who live around the hospital need a sense of what opportunity is out there, and the best thing is to influence a child early," Alani says. "I would like them to leave here with the idea that science is cool and it's fun and it's something they could do."
Each child will participate in at least four science experiments, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at noon. After lunch, the students will see an hourlong science show by postgraduate fellows and graduate students "who will amaze and entertain the children with the mysteries of chemistry, biology and physics," Alani says.
Johns Hopkins Community Science Day is part of the Community of Caring Campaign, an ongoing effort to link employees and students at JHMI with the East Baltimore community.
Michael Jenkins, administrator of the health system's Community Services Department, says, "The children in this neighborhood pass by these buildings every day, and the most exposure that most of them will have to any department on this campus is an experience as a patient in the hospital. Community Science Day demystifies the medical institutions and allows the kids the opportunity to come here and have one-on-one time with some of our scientists. It's incredibly exciting for them."