Should gorillas wear deodorant? How do female sea turtles find their native beaches after swimming across the ocean? Those questions and more will be answered as part of the Triangle SciTech Expo at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences this Saturday.
The expo is part of the N.C. Science Festival, a statewide event that kicks off Friday and runs through April 26. The festival highlights dozens of science and technology-related events, programs and activities across the state and here in the Triangle.
The Expo, which drew 4,000 people last year, aims to showcase what's happening in the science and technology fields in the Triangle. Local companies will highlight their work. Students at local schools will talk about their projects.
Each of the 45 exhibitors will have hands-on activities for kids. Biogen, the biopharmaceuticals firm, will let visitors experiment with Kool-Aid chromatography, aseptic gowning and cell counting, for instance. Kids can learn how to extract DNA from a strawberry at a table led by the Sozzani Lab at N.C. State. Or they can use a game controller to fly a virtual drone and see deer, ravens and other animals during an Open World demonstration led by Chris Evans and Epic Games.
Kari Wouk, who works in the museum's education department, said the goal is to expose visitors, especially kids, to the possibilities in the fields of science and technology.
"We're creating the science communicators of the future," she said.
During the Expo, parts of the museum not usually open to the public will be ready for visitors. The museum's Genomics and Microbiology Research Lab will be open for guided tours. And the public can go up to the Green Roof on the fourth floor of the Nature Research Center from noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, for solar observing with an alpha hydrogen scope. The scope blocks out nearly all visible light so you can see parts of the sun that aren't visible to the naked eye.
"You can see solar flares coming off the sun," Wouk said.
The expo also will feature a variety of talks. Some are designed for all ages. Others are designed for older audiences (like ages 8 and up). The museum's website lists the schedule and age recommendations.
Wouk said families will really enjoy the States of Matter presentations in the Windows on the World space at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. There, Dr. William Switzer, a chemist from N.C. State, will talk about chemistry during a dynamic presentation that will involve things getting blown up, Wouk said.
This weekend also happens to be the final weekend for The World's Largest Dinosaurs. Wouk said there will be discounts on tickets for the exhibit on the SciTech program schedule that you can pick up from the museum on Saturday.
The SciTech Expo is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, at the museum in downtown Raleigh. The expo is free.