Mercer University and Health Sciences Center to Offer Demonstrations at Atlanta Science Festival Exploration Expo


ATLANTA – Mercer University and Mercer Health Sciences Center are again major sponsors of the Atlanta Science Festival, a week of events held March 21-28 that culminates in the Exploration Expo on Saturday, March 28, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at Centennial Olympic Park. The expo is free and open to the public.

Last year, the inaugural expo, which was held in the Georgia World Congress Center due to inclement weather, was attended by around 16,000 people. This year’s event features over 100 interactive exhibits that allow the whole family to explore the world of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Mercer’s exhibit booth will be located in the Encounter Zone, one of five zones around the park that allow attendees to more easily plan their day, which is a new feature of the expo.

Faculty members from the College of Pharmacy, College of Liberal Arts, School of Engineering and College of Health Professions will offer the following demonstrations throughout the day:

Dr. K’s Mad Science Extravaganza, 11 a.m.-noon

Dr. Jennifer Knaack, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and her students will use a chemistry demonstration and a hands-on biology activity to teach fundamental chemical and biological concepts.

In the first demonstration, they will make “elephant toothpaste,” a colorful volcanic eruption of soap bubbles catalyzed by yeast peroxidase in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. Visitors to the booth will learn about catalysts and how yeast break down hydrogen peroxide.

In the second demonstration, a Briggs-Rauscher reaction, also known as “the oscillating clock,” will be used to demonstrate how complex chemical reactions can be linked together to cause colors to rapidly change in a solution.

In an additional demonstration, visitors will be taught how to extract their own DNA from cheek swabs. Collected DNA, visible to the naked eye, will be transferred to a vial that can be taken home.

Solar Telescope, noon-1 p.m.

Dr. Matt Marone, associate professor of physics, will provide the opportunity to safely look at the sun with a solar telescope. Visitors will be able to see sunspots and flame-like solar prominences.

Senses Integration, 1-2 p.m.

Dr. Kevin Bucholtz, associate professor and chair of chemistry, and Dr. Garland Crawford, assistant professor of chemistry, will demonstrate the interaction among our sensory systems – particularly taste, smell and vision – using jelly beans.

When blocking the perception of smell and vision by pinching the nose and closing the eyes, people typically find it difficult to determine the flavor of a jelly bean, and they sometimes struggle when only smell is blocked. This demonstration will discuss taste and how sensory information is integrated in the brain.

Machine Intelligence and Robotics, 2-3 p.m.

Dr. Sinjae Hyun, associate professor of biomedical engineering, will provide an overview of robot design and control, and also an application of robot technology and 3-D prototyping to operate a prosthetic human hand.

Your Body in Balance, 3-4 p.m.

Faculty from the Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Professions will demonstrate balance and provide an understanding of how four unique systems – musculoskeletal, visual, vestibular and proprioceptive – work together to keep us balanced.

Visitors to the booth will learn about balance from a multisystem perspective as well as a few exercises targeting each system that can help keep the body in balance.

A complete list of Exploration Expo exhibits and performances can be found at