Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jacobs School Bioengineering Department Hits at Home Run at San Diego Science & Engineering Festival

Earlier today, we chatted on Facebook with bioengineering graduate student Carolyn Schutt, the lead organizer at the Jacobs School bioengineering department for the San Diego Science & Engineering Festival.  Here is what she told us:

The Bioengineering Department is presenting a special exhibit at this week's San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering. We're talking with lead organizer Carolyn Schutt. Carolyn is also a PhD candidate in Bioengineering and Bioengineering Graduate Society Outreach Chair. Carolyn, are you logged on?
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    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering You can learn more about the festival by checking out their site.
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt Good morning!
      2 hours ago · 
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Good morning. Thanks for joining us. Tell us about your exhibit, Home Run Science Challenge. What will you be doing and when?
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt The UCSD Bioengineering Department exhibit is called "Cell Adventures: Follow the Cues to a New You" and will be on display all day Saturday at Petco Park for the San Diego Science and Engineering Festival. Here visitors will be able to play interactive games, including a giant "Plinko Board" (of Price is Right fame), which illustrates the concept of a cell's maturation into a specific cell type. Visitors will also learn about and see tools from cutting-edge research in the field of regenerative medicine, straight from our bioengineering labs. The UCSD Biomedical Engineering Society will also have an exhibit, where visitors will be able to isolate DNA from strawberries and play a game to complete a DNA strand from its template.
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt In addition, UCSD Bioengineering is also leading an all-new Festival-wide program, called the Home Run Science Challenge
      2 hours ago · 
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Why did you select these particular exhibit topics? How a cell differentiates and matures, for example. What are the core science concepts you want kids to learn?
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt We decided on the concept of cell differentiation because it is a process that bioengineers study in order to develop new treatments that will help to repair damaged tissues. We want kids to take away the concept that a cell can mature into many different specialized cell types and that bioengineers study this process and use it help patients.
      2 hours ago · 
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering So what's going on in this picture, "Follow the cues: It's great to differentiate?"
    • Carolyn Schutt This is the "game board" for one of the activities we have at our exhibit. Kids will roll giant foam dice to determine how a cell changes into its final specialized cell type. This process depends on several environmental "cues" such as the stiffness of the underlying surface or the forces the cell encounters in the body.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering It seems your exhibit is designed to engage kids and K-12 educators in a conversation about science and science curriculum. What are some of the ways K-12 educators can collaborate with UC San Diego?
    • Carolyn Schutt Yes, our exhibit is a fun interactive experience to get kids interested in the field of bioengineering. We also have materials for parents and K-12 educators to take away. As a special addition this year, we are also introducing the Home Run Science Challenge, which is new Festival-wide program lead by UCSD Bioengineering.
    • Carolyn Schutt The Home Run Science Challenge challenges kids to "run the bases" by visiting five special exhibits at the Festival and verbally answering one question on the related science and engineering concepts of each exhibit. When they answer a question, they will collect a stamp on their worksheet and once they collect five stamps, they will receive an awesome prize. The featured exhibits include UCSD Bioengineering, the UCSD Biomedical Engineering Society, Life Technologies, the BIOCOM Institute, the UCSD Near Space Balloon, the UCSD Briggs Lab , and UCSD K-16 Programs.The kids will keep their worksheets to bring into the classroom to share with their teacher. More information is featured on the website:
    • Carolyn Schutt We are also encouraging K-12 educators to explore classroom partnership opportunities with UCSD students and scientists/engineers through this website. Example activities for such a partnership include having a UCSD graduate student give a special topic workshop or serve as a judge for a school science fair.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering You mention getting kids interested in the field of bioengineering. Is this a novel concept for kids, parents and educators? Do people understand what bioengineering means?
    • Carolyn Schutt Bioengineering is a relatively new field and we are excited to promote it to the public, including kids, parents, and educators. Bioengineering combines the quantitative aspects of engineering with the fields of biology and medicine. We want make young people aware of this field and the potential it has to make an impact on human health.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Most people are familiar with the standard K-12 science curriculum from their own experience taking biology, earth science, chemistry and physics. What does a high school graduate need to know to succeed in a bioengineering program as an undergraduate?
    • Carolyn Schutt A high school graduate can expect there to be a heavy emphasis on math and physics. As a bioengineering student, you will be applying these areas to biology. To enter into this field of study, you don't need to have any specific "bioengineering" experience beforehand.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering I understand more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students are volunteering on this exhibit? What are they all doing? And how can others get involved in this work? Do you have opportunities for alumni working in local industry to volunteer?
    • Carolyn Schutt Our over 50 volunteers are distributed among our three related programs: the UCSD Bioengineering Department exhibit, the UCSD Biomedical Engineering Society exhibit, and the Home Run Science Challenge. Next year we will be looking for as many volunteers to help out once again. This year, most of our volunteers are students, but we would love for alumni to bring their families to the festival and to connect with UCSD Bioengineering for joint outreach opportunities. We are always looking for more ways to get alumni involved and to foster connections with local industry.
    • Carolyn Schutt One of our goals this year is also to create a dialogue with K-12 educators about engineering, and help to build awareness of engineering study with high school students.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Carolyn. I'm sure you will have a great event on Saturday. How should students, alumni, and K-12 educators get in touch with your program if they would like to work with you and participate in this dialogue about engineering?
    • Carolyn Schutt Thank you for this opportunity! This has been great. Students, alumni, and K-12 educators can contact our program at to continue this dialogue and get involved with our outreach programs. More information is featured at our
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering There you have it. It's going to be a gorgeous weekend so we hope you're all going to the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering this weekend. Be sure to stop by the Department of Bioengineering's exhibit! Thanks again Carolyn and all the student volunteers who are making this important contribution!

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