When you look at elementary school students, do you see the next generation of scientists, or tiny terrors to shoo away from lab equipment? Trepidation aside, bringing kids into the lab can be a great means of community outreach. It could not only inspire future researchers; it also shows the nonscientific community (both children and parents) what labs and scientists are really like.
I conducted my first experiment in my parents' kitchen when I was eight years old. It involved an apple, a bunch of different spices, and an incubator in the form of the dark, slightly warm environment otherwise known as "under the sink." I had just learned in school about famous world explorers scouring the globe in search of spices and gold. Some spices, like salt, were desirable not only for flavor but also for preservation of food, so I thought: What an idea! Spices can preserve food? What if I cut up an apple and put different spices on each piece? And so, a scientific pursuit ensued.
With the Annual Meeting behind us, thousands of ASCB posters are now floating around the world. If my colleagues are representative, most of those posters are now either in a recycling bin somewhere or keeping scientists toasty at a "lab bonfire." But what if they could be used for something more interesting? Here are some ideas for giving your posters a second life.
Working with faceless beings hidden inside my computer for more than six months was surprisingly easy and productive. Yeah, at the beginning I wondered, what does she or he sound or look like? Then, over time, their Google images became their faces. Which is really weird, I have to admit, since some of them have flowers or random non-human photos as their images. But those are the mental images I learned to associate with my fellow COMPASS members. So when I walked into the COMPASS get-together at the ASCB Annual Meeting, I was excited, yet a little nervous, to finally meet my COMPASS colleagues in person.