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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    BIO5 students’ experiment goes elementary

    Basketball and the scientific method were the topics of discussion Wednesday night as UA undergraduates taught students of Homer Davis Elementary about how science affects their daily lives.

    In a four-act skit, several undergraduates asked the question, “”Does following through really improve your basketball shot?””

    After some deliberation, the UA students formed a mock hypothesis, an experiment and collection of data, which included shooting free throws in the Homer Davis gym where the skit was held.

    “”We wanted to do something a little more static than this, but (the school) decided that it would be a little bit more fun, a little bit more interactive, to do a skit of some sort,”” said Kevin Hall, director, research trainer and career developer for the BIO5 Institute.

    The organization that supported the skit was the the UA’s BIO5, a research collaboration of five university departments: medicine, pharmacy, basic sciences, agriculture and engineering. The goal of BIO5 is to answer questions on a global scale, such as “”how to feed the world when there is eight or nine billion people”” by bringing together researchers from different departments for different perspectives, Hall said.

    Wednesday’s skit was organized in part by Hall, but was performed by undergraduate student ambassadors of BIO5.

    “”We had lots of enthusiastic volunteers,”” Hall said. “”As ambassadors for BIO5, there aren’t very many theatrical students. (They) were really expanding their horizons by coming out and doing drama.””

    Although BIO5 and Homer Davis have collaborated before, the skit was held in part to help encourage Homer Davis students to participate in an upcoming science fair. After the skit ended, the undergraduates and other BIO5 members hosted a question-and-answer session for the elementary students and gave them candy for every right answer.

    Questions included: Is building a volcano a science project? What is a hypothesis? What do you need a hypothesis for? What types of research can be done for the experiment? Many of the BIO5 ambassadors were eager to encouraged the students to think about science, even if it includes acting for the first time.

    “”One of BIO5’s main goals is education outreach, it’s training the next generation of scientists,”” said Misha Pangasa, molecular and cellular biology junior. “”I am very involved in all the outreach activities that BIO5 does, so this is just one of the things that came up. It was a little (intimidating); on top of not being actors, we’ve been trying to memorize our lines on top of our school or work schedules.””

    Microbiology senior Steve Gould shared similar sentiments.

    “”It was great,”” Gould said. “”It was hard. I actually cheated a little bit, just brought a few lines with me. But it was great. BIO5 asked for some volunteers from the ambassadors, and so I decided that I wanted to help.””

    As ambassadors and faculty involved in BIO5 continue to organize education outreach programs, BIO5 will continue to host science projects and lectures at schools around Tucson.

    Although many BIO5 faculty are concerned with research, the possibilities of educating young students about science seem crucial as well.

    “”This is very important,”” Hall said. “”Everything BIO5 does is important, but I really admire the education outreach activities that we do. We want to do something that will increase participation and increase the understanding of what science is all about.””

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