Monday, October 8, 2012

Fiesta de la Neurociencia (Neuroscience Party!)

On Thursday for work I went to the Fiesta de la Neurociencia.  It was held in a giant tent outside the National Museum of Natural History.

Well, it was more like a whole tent complex:

And because it was outside of the National Museum of Natural History, there was a dinosaur exhibit:

Did you know that dinosaurs had feathers now?  Research is pointing in that direction, which sure makes them look sillier! A cool thing that was at the fair was an exhibit about chronobiology, which is more or less what my thesis addressed in the context of space robotics operations.  So it was really cool to see this exhibit.  Here are the first two panels:

And it stretched around for 15 panels, and tons of students were checking it out.  Yay sleep science!

The reason I was there was because the MIM had a whole section of the giant tent.  We had an outside table which was the sort of what I'm used to with having a table at an event with the Museum of Science in Boston.  We had some cool demos and kids came up to check them out and we explained the science.  Here I am with my coworker Mindy (not the most Chilean name, but she is definitely Chilean):

We had magnets and iron filings, plasma balls (only one worked), mirror illusions, and optical illusions on rulers:

But what was different was that behind our table was the entrance to 3 workshop areas where guides from MIM were doing 30-minute workshops, alternating between one about fluids and one about pressure.  Each had space for about 20 kids, and schools had to sign up to attend the workshops by coming by and seeing when we had space open.  I think if this were happening in the US, the schools would have signed up ahead of time and known the plan before they got there.  Things here are different in some subtle ways.  Anyway, here's a picture of the fluids workshop:

And another cool thing that I saw there was a built periodic table of the elements.  As you can see, it was arranged in the shape of the periodic table (even including the lanthanides).  Inside each element box, there was a picture of something practical it's used for, if applicable.  Some of the higher elements said that they didn't have commercial applications.  They also had facts and the standard periodic table symbols and numbers:

At one point during the fair, there was a contest for people to come up with 7 facts about copper.  Copper is one of the biggest national industries in Chile and is a big point of national pride.  Anyway, so there wasn't a huge rush on this contest because it was during lunch, so my museum colleagues and I were sitting at our booth and writing down facts about copper.  No one else had won the contest by the time we came up with enough facts (it has antibacterial effects, it's solid at room temperature, it's maleable and ductile, and some others that I don't remember now), so of course they sent the gringa (me) to go win the contest.  Well, it took a little effort because I got up there and first they wanted me to say my facts into the microphone, but I wasn't confident enough with my Spanish to do that.  Then I had some trouble reading one of my coworkers' handwriting, and they asked me who wrote it.  I think all of this was not to get me in trouble (no one else was even trying in this contest, so they were probably just glad to have me), but I think sometimes it's fun to mess with the gringa. 

Long story short, I won a bright red hat for my efforts!  It says Codelco on it, which stands for Corporación Nacional del Cobre.  It was fun!

I also got 2 cool astronomy posters from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), which had the space next to us.  One has the Milky Way (Vía Láctea) and the other has some observatories in the north of Chile.  You should be jealous of these posters!

And I'll leave you with an awesome video I took of some tadpoles and frogs (I think).  The small ones are all 8 months old but different kinds, which is why they're at very different stages of development.  And the biggest one I think is 25 years old, which I find unbelievable and it's things like that that make me doubt my Spanish.  But I really think that's what she said!  Here's the video:

1 comment:

  1. Car- I'm so proud of you! For doing such cool things- and for winning the red hat!