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Local students take part in Science Festival Expo Day

By Steven Hyde and Nicole Reino

An estimated 50,000 people flocked to Balboa Park on April 4 for the inaugural San Diego Science Festival 2009 Expo Day.

“I never thought this many people would show up to see science, so I’m kind of blown away,” said Larry Bock, who spearheaded and orchestrated the expo concept with the pretense to stimulate interest in science for children.

The Expo Day was the grand finale of the month-long San Diego Science Festival, which featured science-themed events all over San Diego County.

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The Expo Day showcased some of San Diego’s renowned advanced technology companies, school science clubs and many other enthusiasts. Approximately 250 different organizations created more than 300 different hands-on activities. La Jolla Country Day had a booth at the expo.

Several La Jolla students, such as Arjun and Varun Sharma, who are ninth graders at The Bishop’s School, won first place for projects they created for the Science Festival.

Arjun won first place for a project called “Computational Analysis of the Topological Property of the Human Transcription Factors Protein-Protein Network,” which was in the mathematical sciences category. He was also selected as a senior sweepstakes runner-up and won several special awards.

Varun won first place for a project titled “Does the Inflammatory Cytokine IL6 Lead to Decreased Muscle Strength?” This was in the animal sciences category.

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Scripps Health showcased da Vinci Si Surgical Systems, an intuitive robot that assists surgeons during laparoscopic surgeries. Attendees could even try the multi-million dollar robot. Other exhibitors included Lockheed Martin. Attendees experienced virtual reality environments, discovered what it is like to fly a fighter jet, operated a submarine periscope, raced a robot and witnessed a car that drives itself.

“What we know is early exposure to science and technology instills that passion,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin. “That’s important when children make a decision to go into a technical career field or not…and we know it’s important for the nation.”

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