Bugs, Recycling, and DNA—Oh My!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Most workplaces would never think of bringing hawks, turtles, beetles and stick bugs to an event for kids—but most workplaces are not the National Institutes of Health. Each year, the NIH Bethesda campus holds its Earth Day celebration in conjunction with Take Your Child to Work Day. Employees share their love of science with their kids, while also learning about how to protect the environment.

Take Your Child to Work Day stations in the NIH Clinical Center allowed kids to learn about the scientific process. They studied genetics by making paper monster organisms and candy double helixes. Cabbage was used to teach about acids and bases, as well as the importance of trying new vegetables. Perhaps the most popular station was The World’s Easiest Lava Lamp, which demonstrated the properties of different liquids.

Outside on the lawn in front of Building 1, the Earth Day celebration focused on recycling at home and in the lab. Several electric cars were on display, along with wild animals that included rescued birds and a turtle under the care of the Department of Natural Resources. Kids were thrilled to see the tabletop petting zoo of large, harmless insects. Some exhibits demonstrated the threats posed by different types of pollution, while others helped kids make the connection between pollution and health.

”This is a day where we try to open our doors and show all kinds of interesting things that are possible with the work that goes on here,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said to a group of kids gathered for the day's Science Bowl. Many NIH staff are already eager to open those doors again next year.

Watch the video below to experience the day's excitement: