Sparking Aha! Moments - ARL families explore the art of the possible during Bring Your Child to Work and Open Campus Family Day

April 29, 2016

By Tracie R. Dean, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • The U.S. Army Research Laboratory celebrated Bring Your Child to Work Day which was expanded this year to include Open Campus Family Day.
  • The ARL workforce, at its Adelphi Laboratory Center location in Adelphi, Maryland, had the opportunity to invite their entire family to participate in a day designed to expose young people to the important work their parents perform and also take part in hands-on and interactive activities throughout the lab.
  • One of the most talked about activities during the day was the deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, lab where students performed the scientific method of extracting DNA from fruit and encouraged to determine the importance of scientist extracting DNA from organisms.

ADELPHI, Md. (April 28, 2016) - The U.S. Army Research Laboratory celebrated Bring Your Child to Work Day which was expanded this year to include Open Campus Family Day.

The ARL workforce, at its Adelphi Laboratory Center location in Adelphi, Maryland, had the opportunity to invite their entire family to participate in a day designed to expose young people to the important work their parents perform and also take part in hands-on and interactive activities throughout the lab.

The 2016 theme, Sparking AHA! Moments, signifies the importance of imagination and new ideas. Throughout the day, students were encouraged to explore through creative workshops uniquely tailored to highlight enriching educational experiences.

In his opening remarks to the day's events, Dr. Philip Perconti, acting ARL director, encouraged the lab's visiting families to use the day as a chance to discover, explore and grow.

"Go out and explore all the lab has to offer, possibly sparking an 'aha moment' in you that will one day lead you back here, working on or supporting some of our nation's greatest scientific challenges."

Families participated in special activities like drone demonstrations where students learned about the technology and maneuverability of robotic vehicles, and a timed race against the clock to build the tallest and strongest tower using marshmallows and dried spaghetti called the marshmallow challenge.

Many interactive labs were offered that integrated science, technology, engineering and math related activities to include 3D printing, severe weather and a fingerprinting lab.

One of the most talked about activities during the day was the deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, lab where students performed the scientific method of extracting DNA from fruit and encouraged to determine the importance of scientist extracting DNA from organisms.

DNA is a code and can be seen as an instruction manual for all living organisms.

Dr. Troy Alexander, associate for strategic planning, registered his three sons for the lab, because he felt it important they be exposed to manipulating DNA.

"The lab was a demonstration of how we now have the ability from a scientific perspective to manipulate and modify organisms and exploit those for the benefit of mankind and for the Army," Alexander said.

DNA lab participant Austin Alexander said what he found to be most interesting about the lab was how simple household products were used to conduct the experiment.

"They used dish soap to extract DNA from different organisms and I learned even though some organisms have different DNA, there are some that share their DNA," Austin said.

At Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, more than 100 children of the ARL workforce participated in Bring Your Child to Work Day with interactive demonstrations, tours and competitions at the Rodman Materials Research Laboratory and the ARL Defense Supercomputing Resource Center.

Children from elementary school through high school learned about the states of matter, 3-D computer visualizations and how chemicals form bonds. During a visit to the computing center, attendees watched a performance by two-foot-tall dancing robots.

"It's great to see how this event has evolved over the years," said Dr. Jim Snyder, a Weapons and Materials Research Directorate father who attended with three of his kids.

Bring Your Child to Work Day is a national event begun in the early 1990s with the intent of exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day and showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future, and allowing them to begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: April 29, 2016