News: News Archives
Family Science Days Draw 3,300 to
Exhibits Hall at the AAAS Annual Meeting
Three cloned mules--Idaho Gem, Idaho Star and Utah Pioneer--were among the popular attractions during Family Science Days, a series of child-friendly, educational public-engagement events at the 2004 AAAS Annual Meeting.
Veterinary scientist Gordon Woods of the University of Idaho and his colleague, Dirk Vanderwall, engaged with the public the afternoon of Sunday, 15 February, reporting that the cloned mules appear to be healthy, normal and energetic. Children, parents and others asked challenging questions: One young man asked, for instance, whether cloned mules share the same memories. (The researchers explained that the three mules were born on different days.)
More than 3,300 parents, children, teachers, and citizens were drawn to downtown Seattle for Family Science Days during the 2004 AAAS Annual Meeting, which also drew 5,700 registrants and 1200 members of the U.S. and international press. The Family Science Days program was conducted in collaboration with the Pacific Science Center and the Institute for Systems Biology.
The large turnout created a lively learning atmosphere on the exhibition floor.
"Everybody was having fun," said AAAS staffer M. Laurie Baker of the Office of Publishing and Membership Services. "Children and their parents were laughing. We had popcorn and live animals and science shows. I loved it."
The mules helped to spark scientific curiosity among exhibition hall visitors. But, the more serious goal behind the research was to study whether boosting the amount of calcium around an equine embryo would prompt cells to grow faster, thereby improving equine cloning. Woods also pointed out that equines have a much lower prevalence of cancer metastasis than humans.
Traffic to Family Science Days reflected strong diversity, said Jill Perla, senior manager of marketing and meeting operations for AAAS. "We had arranged for free shuttle buses to loop among four locations-the African American Academy, the Bailey Gazert School, the Pacific Science Center and the Convention Center," Perla explained. "We were very encouraged by the enthusiastic response that we received from the citizens and educators and families of Seattle. We also were extremely grateful to have so much help from all our partners, sponsors and supporters."
Ongoing demonstrations and activities ranged from interactions with the mysterious goo, "Oobleck," to the L'Oreal "Hair Affair" show, and a slow-ball machine experiment. Those walking through the hall were likely to spot demonstrators wearing pipe-cleaner mustaches, dozens of visitors watching a shark video at the Marine Science Pavilion, children eagerly raising their hands in response to questions, and parents urging children to "Look at the ponies!" (or cloned mules).
A complete listing of the activities that took place during Family Science Days is available online at http://www.aaas.org/meetings/MPE_11_FSD.shtml.
16 February 2004