The Hills are Alive with the Sound of…Science

Children’s angelic voices were accompanied by science experiments on February 28 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas (CCGD) “Earth, Wind & Sky” concert drew inspiration from science themes, including astronomy and biology. CCGD invited SPEaC to perform experiments and answer “Ask a Scientist” questions live onstage during the concert interludes. SPEaC was honored to be in the midst of spectacular artistry, from both the fabulous young singers to the talented CCGD staff that designed, coordinated and conducted the concert.

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Illuminating Biology

“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle”–Benjamin Franklin

Some organisms don’t need a candle, a star (like the sun), or even electricity for light. A few bacteria, insects, fungi and marine creatures produce light on their own, a phenomenon known as bioluminescence (“bio-“=life, “-luminescence”=light). Bioluminescence, the end product of a chemical reaction occurring inside cells, has evolved multiple independent times in nature. A general chemical reaction is shown below depicting how light is produced by the enzyme luciferase, which cleaves the molecule luciferin to produce oxyluciferin and light. In some organisms, the chemical reaction is this simple; however, other organisms, such as bioluminescent bacteria, have more complex systems to produce light that is an expansion of this simple framework.

luciferase

Luciferin + O2 ———————————-> oxyluciferin + light

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Science-Elementary and Inspiring

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Children may be completely oblivious to this, but they start experimenting with science way before elementary school. They are inadvertently exploring scientific principles while building contraptions, playing with Legos, blowing bubbles, and exploring a plethora of other ideas stemming from their inquisitive little minds.
Children in elementary school are observant, inquisitive and constantly ask questions. Science education in elementary schools is tailored to their inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. However, I believe a key element in promoting science education is to sustain this enthusiasm and inquisitiveness in the long run. Continue reading

“Ask a Scientist” Program – A direct link between UTSW trainees and the public

This fall marks the beginning of the “Ask a Scientist” program, launched by SPEaC with open participation from a number of UT Southwestern trainees. The concept is simple: members of the public submit their questions directly to SPEaC during our outreach events and we answer them via YouTube videos made by members of the UTSW community. Questions have been submitted by children and adults, and they have included any science inquiry they want. All questions are valid; anything goes!

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Tips from Hubert Zajicek’s visit: How to develop your science “elevator pitch”

Author: C. R. Morales

Dr. Hubert Zajicek from Health Wildcatters visited us on January 29, 2015 to speak about how to improve our elevator pitches in order to get people excited about us and our work.  Below are some practical take-aways from that talk that we thought might be useful to share. Continue reading