Arts and Sciences researchers are energetically creating and spearheading a wide variety of activities and events that excite, inform and engage the public — of all ages — about the relevance of science in our daily lives. On campus and off, they proactively address the growing need for scientists by designing learning opportunities for children of all ages that not only show them science is cool, but allow them to do it.
Arne Slettebak Planetarium
Ohio State’s planetarium has offered educational programs to Ohio State students and the central Ohio community since 1967. A complete dome-to-floor renovation in 2013 literally made it a brand-new facility. The latest in planetarium technology — digital Spitz SciDome XD projector, NanoSeam Dome, amped-up sound projection — offers breathtaking star shows. Attractive, comfortable surroundings — new seating, lighting, flooring — adds to an optimal viewing experience. The renovation expanded the facility’s potential to serve the public and offer educational outreach for K-12 students in central Ohio. Since reopening in late 2013, the planetarium has hosted more than 25,000 visitors.
Breakfast of Science Champions
Each fall, Columbus middle school students come to Ohio State to explore the worlds of science, technology, engineering and math. Breakfast of Science Champions invites students to spend a morning on campus and enjoy breakfast with faculty and graduate students from sciences, mathematics and engineering to learn about career opportunities and college life. Students then tour labs and participate in a variety of activities.
COSI: Portal to the Public
Arts and sciences researchers are partnering with Columbus’ COSI (Center of Science and Industry) to introduce current scientific research and its applications to general audiences, as part of COSI’s Portal to the Public Initiative. This partnership has created a “center of science” at COSI that embeds research, science and university outreach into everyday public experiences. Faculty groups participate in a series of workshops focused on creating interactives based on current research. For example, faculty and students from the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and the Departments of Linguistics and Physics share their research, providing a dynamic learning experience for all visitors to COSI.
Forensics in the Classroom
The Department of Anthropology and the Columbus, Ohio-based PAST Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing archaeology into schools, have teamed up to create Forensics in the Classroom, a summer camp for high school students to explore the world of forensic anthropology. Camp participants learn first-hand from police officers, homicide investigators, criminal psychologists, entomologists, lawyers, medical examiners, ballistics specialists and crime-scene experts from around Ohio as they proceed through the excavation of a mock homicide scene on Waterman Farm, at Ohio State.
Museum of Biological Diversity (MBD) Annual Open House
Every February since 2004, the Museum of Biological Diversity (1315 Kinnear Rd.) has thrown a huge, free party for the community. The MBD Annual Open House is built around a fun theme that helps visitors explore various areas of research in the MBD collections that contain plants, insects, fishes, birds, mammals, animal sounds and much more. The popular event is a great way to get away from the cold, learn cool things and have fun. The enthusiastic MBD hosts have as much fun as the visitors; every year they dream up something new, but always include: hands-on activities for kids and adults, getting up close and personal with live animals, hunting for treasure, special displays and tours of the collections.
Orton Geological Museum
The Orton Geological Museum at 155 S. Oval in iconic Orton Hall, has played an important role in Ohio State’s community outreach since 1893. The first floor exhibit hall attracts 13,000-plus visitors annually, from near and far. Museum-goers get a close-up look at the extraordinary geological history displayed in carefully arranged exhibits selected from a treasure-trove of 500,000-plus rocks, minerals, fossils — from Ohio and around the world. The display of meteorites (rocks from outer space) and an exhibit of colorful fluorescent minerals (minerals that glow in the dark) appeal to kids of all ages. The gift shop offers a variety of terrific toys, books and minerals whose purchase helps support museum activities. Orton Museum is free/open to public, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., M–F. Special tours can be arranged by appointment.
A consortium of Arts and Sciences centers and institutes offers Ohio State’s only free, monthly public lecture series from September-April. Leading experts — in all areas of science, mathematics, arts and technology — speak on a variety of timely topics engaging and informing audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Faculty and student volunteers from the Department of Physics; the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM), a National Science Foundation-funded MRSEC; and the College of Arts and Sciences, work with teachers and staff at Columbus Public School’s Innis Elementary School — presently under Academic Emergency — on a program designed to motivate the next generation of scientists. Scientific Thinkers, funded by CEM and NSF, is guided by the idea: “Meet a scientist. Be a scientist. Think like a scientist.” Volunteers focus on introducing students to simple science experiments, new words and math concepts to spark life-long interest in the sciences.
The STEAM Factory
Founded by a group of early-career Ohio State faculty, postdocs and staff, the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Humanities, Mathematics) Factory is a diverse, inclusive grass-roots network that facilitates creative, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation across the university. It supports community outreach, increasing awareness of the relevance and diversity of Ohio State research and has become a dynamic presence both on campus and at its home at 400 W. Rich Street, where every two weeks, it engages the public with a showcase of the latest collaborative work.