Illuminating and inspiring more than 1700 minds at Night of the Open Door

Illuminating and inspiring more than 1700 minds at Night of the Open Door

March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014

The downpour didn't dampen spirits nor the record turnout for ASU's annual Night of the Open Door. At ASU's Biodesign Institute, more than 1,700 inquisitive visitors came through our doors----a little wet, but eager to explore.
 
And for the 200 Biodesign volunteers who participated, it was an equally exciting night to showcase our amazing science during the one and only day we literally unlock the doors of our 24/7 secure facility for all of the general public to see. See our Facebook gallery here!
 
For Ph.D. student Michelle Young, as she wrote on her Swette Center blog, the delight of inspiring the next generation of scientists was truly inpiring:
 
Many of us can identify a key moment growing up that shaped our desires to be part of a STEM career.  Growing up in rural Arizona in the early 1980’s, my inspiration came from a second grade assignment to pick up and recycle trash around your neighborhood for Earth Day.  It shocked me (and still does) that rural deserts are a dumping ground for a variety of contaminants.  That assignment has stuck with me for 30 years, forming my desire to improve the environment through a different form of recycling—nutrient and energy recovery from wastewater.
 
I was delighted to see the same shock, excitement, and determination that I experienced as a child while performing science demonstrations for SCEB at the third annual Night of the Open Door on March 1.  
 
That night, more than 1700 people explored the Biodesign Institute to learn about ASU’s research in biomedicine, sustainability and the environment.  It was wonderful to see so many bright-eyed children pulling their parents to a display and saying things like, “Look at this!” and “Cool!”  At the SCEB displays, children looked at cyanobacteria under the microscope and learn about how cyanobacteria could one day be a major source of biofuel for the world.  Children were introduced to the concept of orders of magnitude by using a computer simulation that compares their size to that of the smallest and largest things in the universe.   A “pin the tail on the donkey” style display of a healthy and obese Lisa Simpson helped children understand how different food choices affect the good and bad bacteria in the gut.  With all of this excitement and energy at events like these, we can be assured that someday these same children will be discovering new innovations in the labs of SCEB and the Biodesign Institute.
 
And maybe one of our young visitors last weekend who first got a chance to peer through a microscope, donned a NASA spacesuit, or grabbed a multi-channel pipette, will one day roam our hallways as a scientist, inspired like Michelle during Earth Day.
 
For science to progress, Isaac Newton said: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." That is the essence of the scientific endeavor, for the next generation to learn from leading experts so that we may push our scientific discoveries one step beyond, to explore deeper, and to understand more. This is how antibiotics were discovered, the DNA helix unraveled, and maybe sooner than we may think, diseases like cancer and AIDS finally vanquished.
 
We'll be waiting for you, future explorers! We had a hoot hosting! Thanks for coming and see you at Night of the Open Door 2015.

 

Written by: Joe Caspermeyer