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Take Your Child to Work Day

By Eddy Ball
June 2007

girl holding test tube
After careful instruction by NIEHS scientists, this young researcher had a chance to see how precipitated DNA looks without magnification. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Cindy Innes and Terry Blankenship
Cindy Innes, left, and Terry Blankenship-Paris, second from right, help the kids precipitate the DNA they were isolating. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Ron Cannon
Ron Cannon showed the kids the final "DNA fingerprints" that determined "who stole the cake" in the CSI crime scene experiment. The activity involved isolating DNA, viewing the DNA run on a gel and evaluating the results under UV light. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Each year, twenty lucky kids between the ages of eight and fifteen get a chance to see what their parents do at work by attending the NIEHS Take Your Child to Work Day, which coincides with Earth Day. To make sure more children get the chance to experience the program, participants must not have been a part of the program the previous year.

On April 24, this year's group gathered in Rodbell Auditorium to begin their day of exploration at the Institute. According to Health and Safety Branch rules, the children could not enter potentially hazardous areas such as shops, animal facilities and labs, except for scheduled activities.

The kids participated in Earth Day activities coordinated by Dick Sloan and visited special "child-proofed" labs where they engaged in hands-on experiments in performing DNA isolation, testing pH of different substances and making own "flubber," a gooey polymer with a distinctive appeal for kids. The activities shown here were linked to familiar aspects of home life and contemporary "kid culture" and supervised by Biologists Rachael Patterson, Cindy Innes, Colleen Anna, Kristine Witt, Ron Cannon, Ph.D., and Veterinary Medicine Section Chief Terry Blankenship-Paris, D.V.M.

Rachel Patterson, and Christine Witt
Rachel Patterson, center, demonstrated the pH experiment to the kids as Christine Witt looked on. The kids then tested their choice of household consumer items for pH properties. By testing for pH, the young investigators learned that baby shampoo is called "no more tears" because it has a neutral pH, while adult shampoo is acidic. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

children participating in Take your Kids to Work Day
With more participants than instructors, the kids occasionally had to wait for their turn. However, these good-natured kids seemed to enjoy themselves even when they weren't actively engaged in activities. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)



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