Western Students Pitch in for the “Biobonanza”

The annual Tri Beta event featured many aspects of the sciences

Roberta Marquette-Strain/Senior Staff Writer

When the school bell rang at 3:30 on Friday, March 31, students from Gunnison Elementary School ran into their cafeteria to see that it had been turned into a fun, interactive science fair.

The “Biobonanza” is an annual event, hosted by Western’s biological honors society Tri Beta, that aims to teach elementary schoolers about biology as well as spark their interest in the subject.

Senior biology student Sarah Keith organized this year’s event, drawing inspiration from her childhood experiences of visiting visitor’s centers at state parks and national parks, or touring her local college’s engineering program and being able to interact with the displays and materials.

Keith reached out to various students and clubs outside of the biology department to expand the students’ ideas of biological science. Aside from the biology program, seven other departments were represented at the “Biobonanza,” including geology, psychology, chemistry, and art. Each of the groups were in charge of creating their own interactive booth to teach the kids the basics of the subject while also having some fun.

Psychology students focused on the senses, using taste tests to talk about how taste buds work as well as perception tests to determine their dominant eye. Western’s chapter of Back Country Hunters and Anglers provided animal track molds and taught them how to make a turkey call using a small plastic cup and a straw. Biology students spoke to the kids about the basics of photosynthesis and why birds sing.

Marlo Frazier said that her second-grade son, Owen, is just starting to learn the basics of science, so he was very excited to come. “This is pretty cool for him, to see and learn all this,” Frazier said. “I think his favorite (activity) though was the turkey call,” she said with a laugh.

 

Another popular station featured local falconer Katherine Grand and her Red-tailed Hawk, Kit. Grand often found herself at the center of a crowd of students and parents, as she taught them about the bird and what being a falconer entails. She even showed the group how she calls to Kit to fly onto her arm.

Keith hopes that the diversity of the booths showed the students that there are plenty of different subjects in the field of science. “From birds to DNA to rocks, it can help them realize that even if they’re not interested in earth science, they can also find something cool or interesting about plants.”

The variety of booths allowed students to be introduced to the many different fields of sciences, from biology to chemistry to geology. When the time came for the students to head home, they left with new ideas and an appreciation for science.