Discovery Days foster a love for science

The eagerly awaited Discovery Days arrived on campus October 31 and November 1. Nearly 800 students from 20 schools flocked to Oregon State University to participate in Discovery Days, an outreach program held twice annually that immerses students in the rich and diverse world of science.

The students were largely from neighboring elementary schools, representing schools in Corvallis, Albany, Sweet Home as well as Toledo. There were also a significant number of homeschooled students in attendance with their families.

The Discovery Days events were held in LaSells Stewart Center on Oregon State’s campus.

College of Science Dean Roy Haggerty stopped by to visit with many of the students, encouraging their interest in science.

Students participated in a wide variety of hands-on learning exercises that included extracting strawberry DNA, measuring nuclear waves with a Geiger counter, examining bird and mammal teeth, and learning about snakes, lizards, bearded dragons and the natural history collection on campus with the aid of live specimens and much more. The exhibits were on display in a variety of stations that showcase toxicology, biochemistry and biophysics, botany, zoology, microbiology, physics as well as the engineering sciences.

Sponsored by the Colleges of Science, Agricultural Sciences and Engineering, Discovery Days strives to inspire future generations of doctors, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and other growing STEM careers. The program relies on volunteers to run stations showcasing science and engineering. The volunteers are mostly Oregon State science and engineering students eager to pass along their love of science to young students.

Participating organizations included the Departments of Botany and Plant Pathology, Chemistry, Fisheries and Wildlife, Microbiology, Nuclear Engineering, Physics and Geosciences as well as Brad’s World Reptiles and Sigma Delta Omega.

More than a decade old, Discovery Days has a rich legacy. It has helped thousands of students from Linn and Benton counties to discover, enjoy and love science through the years. Gabrielle James, special assistant in the College of Science, is the coordinator of Discovery Days.

Experts concur that STEM education starts long before a child reaches high school. Research shows that elementary-age students love hands-on and interactive STEM activities and are more likely to deem science relevant to their future education plans as they progress through school if they are exposed to STEM early.

Discovery Days is an important program in Oregon that piques the interest of young learners and engages them in science through deep and frequent exposure.

Discovery Days will return in the spring May 1-2, 2018.

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