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Hawaiian Club

Thousands Turn Out to Get Taste of UCSD at Open House

By Ioana Patringenaru | October 23, 2006

They saw a pickle glow. They made their way through a giant whale. They watched performances by Hawaiian dancers and heard big Japanese drums.

Chancellor Fox
Chancellor Mary Anne Fox watches as her husband, James Whitesell, makes a pickle glow.
Photo/Betsy McCue
Click here to view
more Open House photos.

More than 7,500 people turned out for UCSD’s Open House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Visitors could take part in a wide variety of activities as they made their way through campus from the Engineering Courtyard to the Leichtag Lawn at the School of Medicine, via Warren Mall and Library Walk. Thousands also crowded the Price Center Ballroom for UCSD’s first-ever Career Fair.  

It all began a little after 10 a.m. when Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and her husband, James Whitesell, tried to get a pickle to glow with help from a few Preuss School students. Whitesell first plucked a subject for his experiment from a jar. Then he placed it in a contraption made with two Swiss Army knives, two short metallic poles and electrical wires. Preuss sophomore Henok Yemane slowly turned a dial, sending more and more electricity through the pickle. It began to smoke and sizzle, then faintly glowed yellow, much to the audience’s surprise.

“What you learn from this is that electricity can be converted into light,” Fox said.

Children watch experiments
at Chancellor Fox's booth.
Photo/Betsy McCue
Related Story:
Volunteers help put on UCSD Open House

She said UCSD scientists are researching the opposite process: capturing the sun’s rays to produce electricity. But to get back to the experiment, why did the pickle glow? Because it’s salty. Sodium glows yellow when exposed to an electrical current.

Henok, for one, said he liked the demonstration. “It’s a great way to show how science works and to show people that UCSD is a fun place to be,” the 15-year-old said.

The Chancellor also did a simple experiment to show how metals have different atomic structures. She took a pinball and made it bounce on two metallic cylinders. The ball barely bounced a couple of times on one, but kept going on the other. Why? Because the first metal had a looser atomic structure, while the second one was much denser. “It makes perfect sense when you know about chemistry,” the Chancellor concluded.

Two girls make a pet rock
at a Birch Aquarium booth.
Photo/Betsy McCue

When you know how atoms are packed, you can make many things, including rock candy, the Chancellor said. Visitors to her booth could get a recipe for the treat and samples too. Many then made their way to a table manned by the Triton Engineering Student Council. The students showed their visitors how to make goo with water, glue and food coloring. Children could be seen walking around the engineering courtyard kneading globs of green and pink goo before they lined up to get their pictures taken with Bear, a monumental, 20-plus-foot sculpture.

Children and their parents try out the inflatable whale
in the Kids Zone.

Visitors then headed to the Kids Zone on Warren Mall, complete with a life-size inflatable whale, booths from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a rock climbing wall and a giant inflatable slide.

“It’s really fun, the kids love it,” said Margaret Chen, who had brought her 3-year-old daughter to the event. They were checking out Scripps’ giant whale. Laughter and squeals of delight could be heard as children walked through the inflatable animal. Children also liked the crafts, said Chen.

A few yards away, two fourth-graders and UCSD student Charlene Duncan were making pet rocks, courtesy of the Birch Aquarium. The children came to check out to the campus during Open House with Duncan, who is their mentor in the Partners in Learning program. PAL provides tutoring and mentoring services for children in elementary through high schools all throughout San Diego County. “They keep saying we’re lucky to be here at school and have a real cafeteria with real food,” Duncan said of her charges.

Cynthia Klepadlo
Cynthia Klepadlo,
an assistant currator
with Scripps' fish collection.

Nearby, Jane Peterson, who works at the Stuart Collection, and her daughter, Emma Lam, listened intently to Cynthia Klepadlo, an assistant curator with Scripps’ fish collection. She showed off a viper fish in a jar, a major predator in the mid-water regions. Emma asked about another fish that catches his pray with a bright lure. Klepadlo explained bacteria make the lure glow.

Then she showed off her pièce de résistance, a stingray stinger, a few inches long. They’re mainly dangerous because they cause infections, the assistant curator said.

“It’s cool,” said Emma.

The 11-year-old watches a lot of nature programs, said Peterson. “It’s fun to talk to scientists and see exhibits,” she added. Emma then declared she wanted to see the inflatable whale and off they went.

Cynthia Klepadlo
The UCSD Ascension Dance Team.
Photo/Betsy McCue

Meanwhile, around noon, a small crowd formed at the western end of Warren Mall, as pep bands from San Diego State, UC Irvine, UCSD and Cal Poly Pomona duked it out in a merciless Battle of the Bands. Instruments shone in the sun as musicians played a wide variety of tunes, from “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor to “Living on a Prayer,” by Jon Bon Jovi.

Joelle Campbell and Catherine Flores had turned out to support SDSU’s band. Flores’ mother, Carol, said she was impressed with Open House. “It’s very well put together,” she said.

The Price Center Stage also became a hot spot Saturday on campus, with several groups performing, including Asayake Taiko, which features big Japanese drums.

Hawaiian Club
A member of the
Hawaiian Club dances.
Photo/Betsy McCue

A few yards away, the Price Center Ballroom was home to a busy career fair. An estimated 5000 people took part in the event, said Assistant Vice Chancellor Tom Leet. “It was wildly successful,” he said. Participants were incredibly diverse and extremely well qualified, he added. Some flew in from Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Thomas Cotter just relocated to San Diego from Boston. It was his first time at a career fair. “I’m just getting my feet wet,” he said. Sue Hunt was looking for a job in contracts and grants. “I thought it would be fun to work on a campus with young people,” she said. The event was truly a team effort, with departments setting up about 70 booths, Leet said. Each vice chancellor area had very positive comments, he said. The fair was a great example of the approach UCSD would like to take in the future for recruiting and diversity, Leet added.  

On their way out, many applicants could stop by a multitude of booths on Library Walk, showcasing departments and programs, such as Camp Kesem, a student-run camp for children with cancer, and La Clase Magica, a bilingual after-school program.

Finally, visitors to UCSD’s Open House could take part in a health fair at the Leichtag Lawn. One of the booths showcased programs for infants and their mothers, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and UCSD’s lactation and midwife programs. “People learned a few things and showed interest in our services,” said Linda Levy, director of Women and Infant Services.

Her booth was handing out heart-shaped fans that many visitors were wielding in the hot afternoon sun as the Open House winded down.

Asayake Taiko Performance
Asayake Taiko performance
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