Guess what happened today. Go on. Guess.
The second-annual Science Day happened!
Science Day is an event that a number of campus clubs put on for the community, to demonstrate science and math and stuff. I volunteered.
While there, I ate a donut and some pizza.*
The Bio Club started it and runs it, really, so most of the activities were biology stuff. There was an insect room and the herpetology room and the glowing microbes room and tours of the greenhouse and so forth. But the full list of participating clubs ran to nine and there were even a few slightly-baffled-looking fraternity guys. So there were other events going on: a planetarium, a fossils room, “kitchen chemistry,” and all manner of things.
I can tell you next to nothing about those. Because I was in the reptiles and amphibians room the whole time.
The day started, for our small army of volunteers, with signing in and getting a shirt. It was a red one, which probably caused some jokes about wise shirt colors to wear when about to be descended upon by hordes of schoolchildren. I wandered around vaguely for a bit and missed the first part of the introductory/instruction speech.
That’s because this is when I found out there were donuts. So I went and got one. And then ate it.
I like donuts.
And then we split to our assignments.
The reptiles and amphibians room (named on the assumption that kids would probably not know what herpetology was) had a good selection of stuff. Things in jars, bones, bone casts, and then a line of tanks along the back wall that had some live things. Which included the awesome Kenyan sand boas and two adorable axolotls.
There were a lot of kids. Not as many as last year, it seemed, but there still weren’t many opportunities to relax once the onslaught began. The volunteers in that room quickly figured out a set of things to say or point out for each section of the room—answers to the most frequently asked questions or something cool that people wouldn’t know unless you mentioned. Like that caecilians are this third order of amphibians that most people haven’t heard about. Or that if you look in this jar you can see a snake cut open in such a way that you can see the lizard it had eaten prior to being caught.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, pretty much every single kid would ask A: if the things in jars were dead, and B: if the red dye on a preserved mudpuppy was blood. Kids are morbid.
But there were some pretty cool kids. The ones who clearly loved to be there seeing these things and wanted to learn. The girl who asked a question about each and every specimen on the table but, and this is the important part, listened raptly to each answer with every appearance that it was the most fascinating thing she’d heard about since her last question.
And the parents and fellow volunteers wandering in to ogle things in jars that they hadn’t seen before were nice to see; salamanders and lizards aren’t exactly charismatic megafauna, so it’s good to know people think they’re worth caring about.
Here’s the thing: science is pretty neat. For all that Naraghi is eternally full of people complaining about tests and how much work they have to do, we’re generally doing what we’re doing at least on some level because it’s neat. Because of the beauty of flowers and things that crawl in the mud. Knowing that nebulas birth stars. Or the chemical reactions that make up life.
Because we live in a world that is very very complicated and very very cool and how could you not want to find out more?
*okay, there is a whole story about the pizza that I felt would have detracted from the *science yay* thing. Just imagine that it was like a romantic comedy but with pizza: happy beginning and promises, tragic misunderstandings and mild betrayal, then a happy ending where we ultimately came together. Except it was pizza.