Pi, volcanoes and DNA at Science City

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Courtesy of Amy Randall / BIO5 Institute

A volunteer for the Marine Awareness and Conservation Society shows marine organisms at the Science of the Natural World tent at the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books. At this year's Science of the Natural World tent, there will be live volcano demonstrations.

The normally patchy field of grass on the east side of the UA Mall will soon be the stomping grounds of animals, insects and robots. All of Tucson will have a chance to be a scientist for the weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books’ Science City event.

The Tucson Festival of Books has been a Tucson staple going on seven years, and Science City provides the public with an opportunity to interact with Tucson’s diverse science community. This year’s city is divided into five neighborhoods where around 80 participating groups will be divided by broad scientific disciplines.

Science of Everyday Life

In the Science of Everyday Life neighborhood, participants will be able to make liquid nitrogen ice cream with the Student Members of the American Chemical Society and learn about the science of baseball from the UA College of Engineering.

“It is a great feeling to know you are inspiring the next generation of scientists,” said Daria Timonina, a senior studying biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology and the secretary of the UA SMACS.   

Science of the Natural World

Don’t forget your safety goggles: At the Science of the Natural World neighborhood, the department of geosciences is simulating volcano eruptions three times a day.

The neighborhood isn’t the only way you can experience the wonders of the natural world this weekend. Many UA departments will be holding tours of their research facilities that are usually closed off to the public. On Saturday, the newly constructed UA Laboratory of Tree Ring Research will open its doors to the public for an open house. After checking out the rings, you can see some creepy crawlies during a tour through the UA Insect Collection or check out the diverse collection of plants and fungi at the UA Herbaria open house. On both Saturday and Sunday, visitors of all ages can learn about the diverse plant life on campus at the Campus Arboretum.

Science of You

That’s not the only biology you can see at Science City. At the Science of You neighborhood, participants can extract their own DNA at the BIO5 Institute’s exhibit.

“It is awesome to see a child’s eyes light up with wonder when their interest in science is ignited,” said Lisa Romero, senior director of public affairs and communications at the BIO5 Institute and Science City Executive Committee co-chair.

Science of Tomorrow

At the Science of Tomorrow neighborhood, visitors can get a magnified view of the sun through the telescopes of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. Some of the UA’s most cutting-edge technology will be on display for the public this weekend. On Sunday, the UA physics department will be offering guided tours through its laboratories, and on Saturday and Sunday, Steward Observatory Mirror Lab will be showing the public where some of the largest mirrors in the world are made. 

Saturday marks a special day in every mathematician’s calendar because March 14 is Pi Day. To commemorate the occasion, Science City’s Science of Pi neighborhood promises to inspire visitors with the majesty of mathematics. 

Science City also features a central stage where engaging speakers will be giving talks and demonstrations that inspire the scientist in everyone. One of the most popular events will surely be a discussion on preventative medicine and healthy living by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona and Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of trauma, critical care, burns and emergency surgery and a professor of surgery at the College of Medicine — Tucson. 

Science City is a collaboration between BIO5, the Helios Education Foundation, the UA College of Science, the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Arizona SciTech Festival.

“Part of BIO5’s mission is to engage, inspire, educate and train future scientists, as well as to communicate the impact of collaborative science research being done at the UA,” Romero said.

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Follow Patrick O’Connor on Twitter.


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