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Meet a scientist this Saturday

Meet a scientist this Saturday

October 10th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in News

Anna Pittman, left, a member of the Science on Wheels coordinating committee, and Science on Wheels presenter Michael Borucke educate children about plants at a recent event. Science on Wheels is coming to Serenity Valley Winery this Saturday.

Photo by Submitted

Scientists are rolling into Callaway County this weekend to share their latest research.

"Science on Wheels is a traveling outreach program run by University of Missouri grad students," explained Levi Storks, an MU graduate student and member of Science on Wheels coordinating committee. "We go around to counties across Missouri and we talk about the research we do at Mizzou to people in these communities and why that research matters to them."

Science on Wheels will be stopping from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at Serenity Valley Winery (1888 County Road 342 in Fulton). Attendees are also welcome to show up early and sip some wine. Six researchers will give five-minute presentations on their research, followed by question-and-answer time and hands-on activities.

Even if it's been a long time since your last science class, not to worry.

"Our goal is that you don't need any scientific literacy to come to these events and get something out of it," Storks said. "We want to bring our science to a level people can engage with."

The student presenters have each been trained in how to communicate their research clearly. It's a skill not all scientists develop.

"We give our speakers training to bring a story to their work and make it so people can relate to their work without jargon," Storks said.

Potential topics range from agriculture-related research to unique ways of fighting cancer.

While the presentations are targeted toward adults, children are welcome as well. Storks said students, especially those who are home-schooled, can get a lot out of Science on Wheels.

"This is a great event for them, because they don't get a chance to interact with scientists often," he said.

Children also get a kick out of the hands-on activities at the end of the event, Storks added.

"We've brought live animals before, bacteria cultures," he said.

He explained researchers at MU started the Science on Wheels program to bring interesting information to people in rural areas surrounding Columbia. People who don't often interact with scientists might think of them as lab coat-wearing figures tucked away in ivory towers, but that isn't necessarily the case. For example, much research at MU focuses on agriculture — issues directly relevant to farmers in Callaway County.

"People will come here and it's crazy how much they can relate their experience to what they're hearing," Storks said. "University of Missouri is a public university and the research we do here should be of use to the public."