Science Scircus Wows Lunchtime Crowds

Inspired by the pop-up trend taking the restaurant and retail scenes by storm, the College of Sciences launched an experimental series of science outreach events on the Brickyard this past March and April. The recurring springtime spectacle – known as the Science Scircus – showcased the talents and research of the College’s students, faculty and partners.

“Our goal was to get people excited and talking about the great work happening in the College of Sciences, “ said Scircus ringleader and director of public science, Holly Menninger. “We wanted to celebrate everything weird and wonderful about science.”

Over the course of four lunchtime events, the Science Scircus captured the imaginations of hundreds passing through Brickyard – students, faculty, families on campus tours and even a busload of second grade visitors.

The Science Scircus kicked off in early March with 3D-printed dinosaur bones from Lindsay Zanno’s Paleontology Lab, dry ice experiments conducted by students with NC State ‘s professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma, and a photo op with two-time Nobel Prize winner, Marie Curie.

The second Scircus celebrated Brain Awareness Week. Passers-by got to hold a real human brain and learn anatomy from John Meitzen and his neurobiology students. Lisa McGraw’s lab showed off prairie voles, the small hamster-sized rodents they study to learn what happens to our brains when we’re in love.

After Spring Break, the Science Scircus returned to celebrate women in science, both past and present. NCSU Libraries handed out buttons to commemorate the history of women in STEM at NC State. Women from the WISE Village invited people to make and play with Silly Putty, while deep-sea explorers from Dave Eggleston’s Lab showed off shrunken (Styrofoam) heads from a recent dive.

The Scircus Grand Finale marked the start of the NC Science Festival. To celebrate, the BioSciHelp team brought “mad science” to the Brickyard in the form of polymers, dry ice popsicles, and “egg-speriments.” Statistician Jason Osborne delighted the crowd with his impressive juggling talents and shared tips with those eager to learn a fun, new skill.

Did you miss out on the Scircus fun during its inaugural run? Menninger promises the Science Scircus will be back, bigger and better, in the fall.

David Dickson is a meteorologist from NC State.