Thousands of people came out to take part in the CSU Stanislaus Inaugural Science Day held on Saturday. The attendance blew away everyone’s expectations who were involved in planning the event.
“This is ten times more than I expected, I would’ve been happy to have 100-150 people and there’s got to be well over 1,500 already,” stated Dr. Grobner, midway through the event. “This far exceeds any expectations that I’d ever had.”
Dr. Grobner is the Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at CSUS and one of the event’s originating collaborators.
The first-ever event that was free and open to the public was held in the Naraghi Hall of Science and featured activities for kids, science shows, open labs, and guided tours, which also included the campus planetarium. Fans of insects, skeletons, skulls, fossils, and snakes were able to see plenty, while also getting to touch and learn about the natural sciences of chemistry, physics, biology and geology at Science Day.
People were coming and going from all the science building doors, hallways were filled with traffic, classrooms were full of people, and the greenhouse had a line of people always going through it.
Groups from Merced, Riverbank, Oakdale, Ceres and other cities came to Science Day in Turlock, while buses from Hughson and Newman schools were seen bringing kids to the event.
Many people were welcomed by a pet tortoise, Jefferson, and his care person Sydney Jones. Jefferson was a big hit with everyone.
Over 100 people attended the chemistry show as people even filed into the room to stand against the walls.
There was even a room playing a movie for kids who were worn out or for parents needing a break from all the action.
The greenhouse was a big hit as people toured through looking at and learning about plants.
Kids everywhere were often heard saying things like, “I want to do science.” One dad said, “Eww, body parts” while his kid said, “Anatomy, dad.” The day was great for kids and parents alike.
“I loved seeing the wide range of interests that were presented at Science Day,” said Turlock veterinarian Dr. Barrett, of Community Veterinary Clinic. “My boys (and I for that matter) had a great time exploring all the exhibits.”
According to Dr. Grobner, the Department of Biology had thought about doing something like this event ever since they moved into the new science building, but that it just seemed like things kept getting in the way of getting it done.
“We tried to do this close to Darwin’s birthday,” said Dr. Grobner. “Usually we’re not in session because of our winter term and this was our break time.”
Universities all over the country do events around Darwin’s birthday and this year CSUS was able to join them.
“We had the idea for a couple years, this year we just decided to go for it,” explained Dr. Grobner. “We talked to the clubs and boy did they take hold and just ran with it.”
Science Day was planned by four campus student organizations: The Pre-Health Society, American Chemistry Society Club, Biology Club, and Society of Physics Students.
Danae Jordan, the CSUS Biology Club President and a senior at CSUS, explained how the event might have just been a day to promote biology but then turned into something far greater.
“This all started when Dr. Grobner came to two clubs, Biology Club and Pre-Health Society,” said Jordan. “He had the idea to get something going, originally with just bio, and then he thought about adding chemistry, physics, and then the whole College of Natural Sciences so we could show the community our wonderful building, and get kids enthusiastic about sciences.”
Jordan stated that they had their first meeting about three months ago and that it’s been a collaboration between mostly the faculty and the Biology Department, while also receiving a lot of help from physics and chemistry. She pointed out that math even had a booth at the event.
Jordan, who was energetically buzzing around the entire Naraghi Hall of Science helping out where she could, was very excited about the turnout as she said, “We expected close to 200 to 300 hundred people, there’s a lot more than that here now.”
Pre-Health Society President Vanessa Delgado and Vice President Shiva Niakan were both also excited about the event’s successful turnout.
“We’re hoping that it will inspire the kids who want to go into sciences,” said Shiva Niakan.
“I think it’s an amazing turnout, we definitely didn’t plan on this but we’re happy with the turnout,” said Vanessa Delgado. “We’re already planning for next year’s event.”
Delgado told a story about how a father from Lodi brought his daughter to the event because she really wasn’t into the sciences and said, “I think that to me that was the whole point of this, to bring people from all over the place to show them science. It’s cool. It’s interesting. So I think definitely, mission accomplished.”
Delgado stated that Pre-Health Society had a booth at the event to let people know that they’re an organization on campus and that they were helping host event.
“We want to let the community know that we’re here and active,” said Delgado.
Niakan explained, “We’re just hoping to really promote our school, so that people stay, and go to our school, because it’s a real good school to represent.”
The Pre-Health Society brings in guest speakers and helps those interested get where they want to go. The group participates in Relay for Life and Habitat for Humanity so fundraising for good causes is also an important part of the club’s activity.
Both club officers spoke about how they met past club members or CSUS graduates from decades ago who were excited to see the club’s involvement, how much bigger and better the school has grown, and even volunteered to be one of the club’s guest speakers as interest in the school was renewed.
As this was the first Science Day, many event mishaps were worked out for next year. While the Office of Service Learning helped get the word out about the event, most of the promotion was just flyers sent to schools in Stanislaus County and word of mouth.
“We tried to get some funding but this year it was all volunteered, and I think if people see how successful this is they’ll give,” said Dr. Grobner.
As stated, this will be an annual event and with hopes of being more supported.
Dr. Grobner explained that bringing interest to science was the event’s main goal.
“We wanted people to see what we have here, and the big thing is we wanted to get kids interested in science,” stated Dr. Grobner. “Science literacy in this country is going down. We’re hoping that this stirs an interest in kids and maybe gets them a little more science literate.”
After attending this year’s event, Dr. Barret, DVM at Community Veterinarian Clinic, said that he would love to get involved next year.
“I thought the event was well run and educational,” said Dr. Barrett, who attended with his two sons. “Both my kids have already asked to go again next year. I think I’m looking forward to it as much as they are.”
If you’re interested in participating or being a sponsor for next year, contact Dr. Grobner with the CSUS Biology Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-667-3628.