Planet Earth, from space.
May 10, 2018

Science fair aimed at Spanish-speaking families set for May 19

“Fiesta Familiar: Explorando La Ciencia Juntos” at UC Riverside will include activities such as smelling the universe, touching meteorites, and getting a close look at the DNA molecule

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
May 10, 2018

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — The University of California, Riverside, is hosting a free, public event on Saturday, May 19, aimed at the Spanish-speaking community.

Children, teens, college students, and adults are invited to “Fiesta Familiar: Explorando La Ciencia Juntos,” presented entirely in Spanish, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UCR Student Recreation Center.

Parking will be complimentary in Lot 24 at Canyon Crest Drive and West Linden Street.

“Riverside County’s population is 49 percent Hispanic,” said Mario De Leo-Winkler, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the lead organizer of the science fair. “We would like families to come and have fun with science in their native language, so that the message can be transmitted more clearly and without language barriers in a welcoming environment.”

The fair, which is open also to those who don’t speak Spanish, will have several hands-on fun activities. The activities include:

  • Smelling the universe. How does a star smell, or the moon? This activity uses common-household cooking ingredients that smell similar to objects in space.
  • Touching an extraterrestrial object. Meteorites are pieces of rock that floated in space for billions of years before crashing on Earth. Guests will get to touch meteorites, which present inklings of how the planets and moons of our solar system were formed.
  • Digging it. Visitors will get to participate in an archeological excavation, learn about the different layers of soil, and excavate for bones and pieces of clay that offer clues about ancient dwellers.
  • Zeroing on DNA. Attendees will be able to look directly at possibly the world’s most famous molecule: DNA, the famous hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Through an experiment presented at Fiesta Familiar, people will be able to see plant DNA with the naked eye.

Other activities are:

  • Viewing solar explosions through a telescope.
  • Turning copper-colored coins golden.
  • Raffle of four telescopes.

Attendees will be able to take a free campus tour and converse with UCR scientists. Free snacks will be offered. Other details about Fiesta Familiar can be found here.

Mario De-Leo Winkler
“Fiesta Familiar: Explorando La Ciencia Juntos” on May 19 at UC Riverside will include activities such as viewing solar explosio

“We would like families to come and have fun at Fiesta Familiar, and learn something new as a result of playing with science and speaking with faculty members, undergraduate, and graduate students,” De Leo-Winkler said. “UCR welcomes the Hispanic community and has plenty to offer, such as public activities and educational opportunities, as well as fellow scientists working to make the world a better place. We will offer opportunities to the community to interact directly with Hispanic researchers. This would give the public a chance to see how successful stories can be achieved, establishing a path for first-generation students to consider the natural and social sciences for their careers.”

UCR is a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The May 19 event is supported by the following at UCR: College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences; Astronomy at UCR; Office of the Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor; College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; School of Medicine; Graduate School of Education; Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering; Department of Earth Sciences; Department of Chemistry; Department of Entomology; Plant Pathology Outreach Group; Student Association of Graduate Anthropologists; Botany and Plant Sciences Graduate Student Association; Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, UC California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) – Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and NASA NAI Alternative Earths Program. Other supporters include the NASA MIRO MUREP FIELDS Program, Taco Station, Riverside STEM Academy Foundation, and Riverside Unified School District.

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