OIST Open Campus 2014
On March 16, OIST opened its doors to more than five thousand people from Okinawa and elsewhere, for Open Campus 2014. Visitors freely explored the university’s Center Building and lab facilities, stopping to participate in various hands-on activities, lab tours and Science Cafés offered by OIST researchers and staff. The event also featured four talks, including one by a guest speaker, Professor Kazunori Hanagaki of Osaka University, in which he discussed the Higgs’ boson, one of the current hot topics in particle physics.
The hands-on programs were designed to entertain everyone from children to adults. About 20 theme booths fostered lively exchanges between visitors and OIST researchers. At each booth, visitors experienced scientific principles through simple and enjoyable experiments, handling of labware, and trying out microscopes and other cutting-edge research equipment. “I felt more familiar with science and research as I could interact directly with them,” one of the participants said with a smile.
The winners of last year’s Okinawan high school science contest, SCORE! also participated in this year’s Open Campus by setting up booths. This provided an opportunity for the students to introduce their own projects and to interact with visitors. Furthermore, students from Onna Junior High School jazzed up the event with their announcements in both Japanese and fluent English. After their exploration of OIST, some visitors expressed their expectations for the university by saying, “I was surprised to know that we have a remarkable facility like this in Okinawa. I am sure that the rich natural environment of the island will stimulate the research further.”
While OIST conducts a wide range of cross-disciplinary education and research, it also seeks to be accessible to everyone in the local community. Through activities like the Open Campus, OIST hopes to offer opportunities for exchanges and deepening people’s interests in science.
By Mayumi Nishioka