UB to host Science Exploration Day

Published June 19, 2014

Paranormal mysteries, crime scene investigations and dissected human organs are just some of the peculiar and gory presentations that UB will host during the annual Science Exploration Day, to be held from 9:15 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. March 13.

In its 27th year, Science Exploration Day is a one-day science extravaganza combining unusual experiments and laboratory tours, accompanied by thought-provoking lectures. It gives high school students a chance to hear prominent scientists, engineers and health care professionals speak about their respective fields.

Event organizers expect to bring 700 students from 25 participating public and private high schools throughout the Western New York to UB’s North Campus. The events will take place in Talbert, Norton and Capen halls.

“Our expectation is that the day will inform and enthuse the students about science and technology, so much so that they keep enrolling in science and math courses at the high school level and consider pursuing careers in these fields, as well as medicine,” says Rodney Doran, UB professor emeritus of science education.

Doran has been on the organizing committee of Science Exploration Day since its inception. Besides getting students interested in science, technology and medicine, he hopes the event will give the students a lasting impression of UB. “We hope the faculty and facilities of UB will prompt them to put us on their list of prospective colleges,” he says.

This year’s keynote presentation will feature Bill Owens, senior engineering consultant for Praxair Inc., a manufacturer of industrial, process and specialty gases. Owens’ presentation, “The Cold, Cold World of Cryogenics,” will be a lecture and demonstration on cryogenics, which studies the effects extremely cold temperatures have on materials. One of his many experiments uses nitrogen and oxygen cryogenic liquids to freeze a banana, converting it into a functioning hammer.

Also in the lineup of presenters this year is paranormal investigator Joe Nickell of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Nickell has been profiled in The New Yorker and has appeared on the Discovery Channel, BBC and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” His presentation will feature cases he worked on, including alleged incidents of spontaneous human combustion and the haunted Mackenzie House mystery in Toronto, all of which he successfully debunked and solved.

Returning favorites from previous years include “Really Gross Anatomy and Physiology” by Don Gill Jr., biology instructor at Erie Community College, and “The Real Science behind CSI” by Ted Yeshion, associate professor of forensic science at Edinboro University. Gill will use preserved, dissected organs to discern the similarities and differences between animal and human anatomies, while Yeshion will speak about a chemical called luminol, which forensic scientists commonly use to reconstruct crime scenes.

The event is jointly sponsored and organized by the Niagara Frontier Science Supervisor, the New York Sea Grant, the Western Section of the Science Teachers Association of New York State, as well as the Great Lakes Program and Graduate School of Education at UB.

Complete program and registration information can be found on the Science Exploration Day website.