Sic ‘Em Science Day experiments with hands-on interaction, brand-new research

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

Visitors of all ages interacted with experts and had hands-on experiences with science on Saturday at the Mayborn Museum’s Sic ‘Em Science Day.

Sic ‘Em Science Day featured an array of activities and exhibits at the Mayborn Museum. Researchers gave visitors the opportunity to see cutting-edge science up-close from fields like engineering and biology.

Lesa Bush, the Mayborn Museum’s associate director of education and programs, said this experience is a favorite among regular visitors.

“People love the engagement. They love being able to talk to real scientists,” Bush said. “They love the topics that are brought up because they’re always interesting and they’re varied.”

Sic ‘Em Science Day features researchers showing off their work and museum studies students learning to engage with the public. This results in the personal interaction typical of Sic ‘Em Science Day exhibits, which Bush said can leave a lasting impact on visitors.

“It allows us to have more personal facilitated experiences on the floor of the museum,” Bush said. “Those are the experiences that the guests come and have, and then a month, a year, years from now can have a significant impact on their lives.”

Keighley Reisenauer, a Baylor doctoral candidate, studies breast cancer biology. After presenting a lecture on cancer research, Reisenauer manned a table with a range of microscope slides and petri dishes of cells from her research. Visitors were encouraged to take a close look at the exhibits and talk with their presenters to learn more, an aspect Reisenauer said she enjoyed.

“A lot of people know about clinical trials… [or new] drugs, but I don’t think they understand how much research is done to go into that,” Reisenauer said. “It has been really fun to engage with people on that level but also just to talk about science in general.”

Talking about science is, of course, Sic ‘Em Science Day’s main goal. The event description bills it as “a celebration of all things science at the Mayborn Museum.” Bush said the goal of the event is to get people interested in science.

“[We are] opening a whole door up to families and children and adults as to what science is, and if that’s not your particular background, not to be afraid of it,” Bush said. “We all are scientists in one way or another and we all experiment to try to figure if something works or not.”

Many of the Mayborn Museum’s visitors are young children. Connecting with children on a level they can understand while explaining complicated scientific concepts is a challenge Reisenauer said she adapted her style to meet.

“Sometimes it’s really hard to get kids to wrap their mind around something so small,” Reisenauer said. “When I talk to kids about my research, depending on how old they are, it can be [trying] to talk about the data and the fact that I’m working on this new compound… but honestly for most of the kids that are here, it’s just, ‘Did you know your body is made up of basically Legos? Let’s look at Legos in my microscope.’”

Unique to Sic ‘Em Science Day is the ability to learn about brand new scientific research. Some material, such as Reisenauer’s, is so new that it has yet to be published, something she says will hopefully happen soon. Bush said this is one of Sic ‘Em Science Day’s unique draws.

“What’s so exciting about this is we have the latest research on the floor of the museum; this isn’t even in textbooks yet,” Bush said. “The stuff that they’re talking about and they’re engaging visitors with…you’re not going to find anywhere else right now.”