Student teams, faculty and staff were among more than 8,000 participants at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting held Feb. 13-18 in Boston. In addition, Maria Santore, Polymer Science and Engineering, and Danny Schnell, chemistry, were officially honored as newly elected AAAS Fellows during the meeting.
On Feb. 16 at the Hynes Convention Center event, Polymer Science and Engineering graduate students Anesia Auguste, Jon Pham, Daniel Acevedo, Kyle Bryson and George Chang used balloons, polyvinyl alcohol, wooden skewers and Silly Putty to illustrate science concepts for hundreds of children and their parents during Family Science Days. Chemistry professor Julian Tyson offered hands-on arsenic testing in the neighboring exhibit booth. Sheila Patek, associate professor of Biology, was the featured speaker on the live stage in mid-afternoon, presenting videos and talking about her research on creatures with some of the fastest-moving muscles on the planet.
Barbara Pearson in the Office of Research Development, Mort Sternheim of the STEM Education Institute and Biology professor Peg Riley, president of the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences (MAS), coordinated the student presentations. Ryan Hayward of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and Paula Rees of the College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office were also involved in organizing efforts.
On the following day, Jenna Farrell, director of operations for MAS, with undergraduate Microbiology major Anna Hessler, Biology major Dimitra Gomes and Biology-Sociology double major Pete Kariuki, entertained young visitors on the second Family Science Day with such fun activities as making jelly marbles to illustrate properties of polymers. They also allowed children who were brave enough to touch Charles Darwin, the bearded dragon, at the exhibit.
Linda Cendes of AAAS reported that Family Science Days were a "huge success, with a final count of 3,647 public registrants."
The same afternoon, David McLaughlin, director of the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) program in the College of Engineering, spoke on “Chasing Storms Across Disciplines” during a session organized and moderated by operations management expert Anna Nagurney of the Isenberg School of Management. It was titled, “Dynamics of Disasters: Harnessing the Science of Networks to Save Lives.”
Images: Top, Daniel Acevedo, a graduate student in Polymer Science and Engineering, demonstrates to young visitors at the UMass Amherst booth at the AAAS meeting how changing the shape of a polymer chain can affect its properties, in this case, temperature. The stretched balloon is warm but it cools rapidly when relaxed.
Right, Paula Rees of the College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office and director of education and outreach for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), with her son Jack, left, demonstrate properties of the electromagnetic spectrum. In particular, the toy race cars show how two different colors of light, red (longer wavelength) and blue (shorter wavelength), deliver different energy levels. The blue car with higher frequency waves always won. (Janet Lathrop photos)