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MIT/Cambridge Science Expo Proves a Tremendous Success

Column by Abigail Mieko Vargus
Columnist

On Wednesday, April 30, MIT's Public Service Center sponsored the MIT/Cambridge Science Expo. The Expo is a science fair for the seventh and eighth graders of 12 local schools. The kids get to display their experiments for MIT volunteer advisors and go on tours of MIT labs. The Public Service Center characterizes the Expo as the culminating event for the center, tying together all of their programs.

I want to applaud all who took part in this event. Because of the many MIT students who volunteered their afternoon, there are many students who benefited. This year was the fifth annual Expo and the biggest one yet. There were more than 180 Cambridge students; last year about 100 students came. There were so many MIT volunteers that the students were always busy. The event was aided by several science teachers from the schools. Additionally, a number of local businesses made the event possible, providing T-shirts, Tosci's certificates, and pizza.

It's easiest to start off applauding the "big people." These are people like Emily B. Sandberg, assistant dean and director of the Public Service Center. However, when I spoke with her, she made sure to emphasize that it is the student participation that makes this event what it is. The Public Service Center is a two-person office, and this event was largely organized by the two student coordinators, Shonna Yin '97 and Michael M. Bryzek '98.

The two students began work for the Expo in January and managed to double the participation from last year. I spoke with both of the coordinators toward the end of the Expo. While they looked tired, they also looked satisfied. Both noted that the Expo was important because of its function to strengthen MIT-Cambridge relations. Yin commented that the Expo gives them a sense of what MIT is like and helps to encourage them to explore the sciences.

This idea was echoed by observers from both MIT and Cambridge. Paul Parravano, assistant for community relations, labeled the Expo one of the proudest moments of the year. Melanie Barron, the coordinator of science for Cambridge public schools, characterized the Expo as a physical expression of the partnership between Cambridge and MIT.

The MIT students are the people who really made the Expo possible. Most of these students are repeat-volunteers. Sandberg mentioned that most have been to the Expo in years past, or participate in LINKs, or are fellows for the Public Service Center. I talked to a few of the volunteers as well. Tim B. McAnaney '98 was the logistics team coordinator and had participated in the past two years' Expos. Why does he volunteer? Just because it's fun and a good way to help. Another student, Juliet C. Midgley '98, was a first-time volunteer. A friend asked her to help, and she found it a rewarding experience.

Who can truly attest to the great job that these students have done? The Cambridge community. Two students from the Peabody school, Siobhan O'Sullivan and Vanessa Winfield, were really excited when they found out that they were selected to come to the Expo. Once they were here, they said that the MIT students were really encouraging. Another group of students from the Fitzgerald school appreciated the hard work that went into the tours.

The adults - those who probably most influence MIT's place in Cambridge - also realized the hard work that went into and the benefits that come out of this. A science teacher from Peabody, Grant Avery, noted that MIT volunteers' openness, friendliness, and willingness to participate with Cambridge students has been truly amazing.

All the volunteers did a great job, and many people from many places definitely did notice.