10 Nov 2015

More than 5000 people at OIST Open Campus

More than 5000 people, 350 volunteers, 36 science activities, 18 food stalls and 5 buildings adds up to OIST Open Campus.

On Sunday 8th November, people from every corner of Okinawa came to enjoy a sunny day at OIST, having fun while learning science and technology. OIST Open Campus is the only place in Okinawa where you can: have your hair standing in the air after touching a Van der Graaff machine, play with microscopes, talk with robots, build circuits with a magic pen and even trick your brain at a fake barber shop.

Playing with robots, OIST Open Campus 2015

From robots to ants, from squids to supercomputers, there was something to suit every taste and every age. OIST guests could become scientists for the day and use some of the same tools and equipment that OIST scientists are using. They could look at golden atoms under the electron microscope and drive remotely operated vehicle used for underwater research on deep coral reef. Some of children’s favourite activities were the experiments with liquid nitrogen and the robots. Jaubert Ludovic, an OIST physicist demonstrating at the liquid nitrogen station: “People enjoyed the cabbage explosion and they were curious to eat crispy marshmallows, frozen by liquid nitrogen at minus 200 °C. It is fun to see white fog coming out of your nose”.  Then, there were talks by OIST Professors Tsumoru Shintake and Evan Economo, the Curator of Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum Dr Masaki Fujita and OIST Physician Dr Minoru Hara.

The “Physics in Action” science show filled the 500 seat auditorium with children keen to participate to the experiments. James Schloss, second year OIST PhD student and presenter of the show explained: “I really loved presenting in that atmosphere. I wanted to show kids and adults that there is a lot of cool science happening all around them. Literally anything can be cool if you look at it in the right way”. The event inspired Tagawa Syoki, an aspiring science teacher: “I want to do something like this event in the future. Classroom lectures usually bore children who are just waiting for them to end. However, here time passed so quickly, one hour passed by like a flash. It was amazing!”

Science Show “Physics of the World around us” presented by OIST PhD student James Schloss, OIST Open Campus 2015 

“Programming with Neko-chan” was one of the regular and ever popular attractions. “This year we organized a live coding session starting with a game coded by a child. We were coding live, following the suggestions from children in the audience and we ended up with a man-eating penguin with a green afro. Children were applauding and laughing. It was great!”, tells Micheal Cooper, OIST website administrator.

Programming with Neko-Chan, OIST Open Campus 2015

Credit: 
Zachary Hensel

Sixty years old, Aragaki san, came all the way from Naha with the shuttle bus and she had a message of hope for the future of Okinawan children: “Coming here gave me a lot of hope. I don’t think about myself, but about the next generation. Research will help find ways to preserve the environment. I hope that children will preserve our beautiful environment”.

Aya Matsuyama was in company with her husband, 2 sons and daughter and was excited to say: “I thought that the pottery workshop was great. One of my children is interested in science and he is doing pottery at school. This was the perfect combination of arts and science for him. I am happy that OIST made a good relationship with Okinawan ceramics masters”.

Learning pottery making at the “Yuntaku” Laboratory of Okinawa Pottery (Kitagama), OIST Open Campus 2015

Credit: 
Zachary Hensel

Last but not least, OIST guests had the chance to talk with OIST scientists and demystify any scientific doubts. Nigel Sanger came with his son Owen Sanger: “The reason we are here today is to see science in action. My son would like to study biology at University. I think OIST scientists have been creative with the things to show. It is the second time that we come there and I have noticed this year there are more hands-on things”. Ayako Emoto and her family enthused: “It was fun communicating with OIST people. Many of them were good with children, showing how things work. I want to come back with my children next year.”

So see you next year at Open Campus 2016! 

By Letizia Diamante


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