“Science is everywhere” – boomed Yale Research Scientist Dave Hiller, as a record number of local middle and high school students jostled between table demos to complete a lively game of “Ask A Scientist Bingo!” And so began this year’s much anticipated Yale West Campus Pathways to Science Festival.
Over 140 sixth through twelfth graders from New Haven, West Haven, and Orange Public Schools - “the youngest members of Yale’s scientific community” - spent most of Saturday, October 14th exploring practically every corner of the university’s West Campus, from labs focused on health and energy science, to the School of Nursing, the West Campus Farm and even the kitchen.
Now in its fourth year, the first in-person “science fest” since 2019 was designed to provide local students with behind-the-scenes access to traditional research settings, but also with a clear message: science can happen anywhere, not just the lab.
How do the molecules in our food affect how they taste, and what happens when we cook them? How do healthcare professionals figure out what to do with a sick patient? How are we going to create and store green energy?
Touring hands-on demonstrations from one end of campus to the other, students donned their protective lab gear to examine these and numerous other questions.
At the West Campus Imaging Core, salt, hair, and even a dollar bill was examined under some of the world’s finest microscopes. Down at the West Campus Farm, the students explored the natural benefits of α-pinene, a major component of the essential oil of pine trees and used as a chemical raw material, and the anti-inflammatory properties of eucalyptol, found in raised beds packed with rosemary, sage and sweet basil. Channeling the same chemistry principles, a pickling demo with West Campus Chef Chris Jamilkowski explored the science of taste in the adjacent West Campus Barn.
The annual West Campus Science festival brought together over 50 volunteers connecting Yale Pathways to Science and numerous West Campus institutes and units. The event was organized at a team led by Hiller alongside Josie Jayworth and Uzoji Nwanaji-enwerem, fellows from the Office of Graduate Student Development & Diversity who study at the West Campus.
Pathways assists colleagues across Yale to engage in community outreach that supports young scholars to pursue careers in the sciences. For more information about the program, visit https://onha.yale.edu/pathways-science. Members of the Yale community who wish to engage with local public school students can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yale West Campus is committed to efforts that open the doors to the campus for local students to explore science and learning at Yale.