Those curious about what was going on at the Albany County Public Library this week had the right idea.
The Curiosity Cube — a traveling educational lab that promotes learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — was Tuesday’s stop on a tour around Laramie.
With school out for the summer, the Curiosity Cube has been hosting a mix of public events and school program-specific exploration for youth.
MilliporeSigma, the company behind the Curiosity Cube, sells products for life science research and medicine development, including vaccine supplies. As a result, the Cube has access to a variety of scientists from within the company who offer their experience to young people as volunteers.
Zachary Zenefski, a MilliporeSigma scientist who runs a microscope station, said that by working with the Curiosity Cube, “I can give back to the community and help the kids (by) encouraging them to go into STEM.”
Zenefski, like other Curiosity Cube volunteers, lives and works in Laramie. This means that the initiative has access to local experts who offer their knowledge directly to youth.
“At each city we travel to, we have a MilliporeSigma laboratory on site,” said MilliporeSigma Cube Coordinator Audra DeMariano. “For example, here in Laramie we have a Laramie MilliporeSigma laboratory and we have real scientists from that location coming out to kids and teaching them all about their microbiome.”
Kids showed up to Tuesday’s event at the library to explore their own microbiome, which is the system of bacteria inside the human body. Many started out at the test tube station, where they used personal experiences to learn what their unique microbiome looked like. Children found out they have very different microbiomes from each other, even within families and households.
The Curiosity Cube uses the microbiome as a way to show youth the tangible impacts of science in their everyday lives, and especially within their own bodies.
Parents were excited to give their children an opportunity to explore new subjects. The Curiosity Cube was at the Albany County Public Library as part of its science programming, which offers experiences in STEM each Tuesday.
“My son, he likes anything science, physics. We always like the library’s science program,” said parent Ayako Ohara. “We just came by and we found his favorite science activity.”
Ohara’s son, 6-year-old Joe, explored the Curiosity Cube multiple days and said he especially enjoyed the robot station.
The Curiosity Cube promotes the action of sparking curiosity in young children, and volunteers said they hope to inspire future scientists. Using health science means children can explore topics every day rather than just during their time at the Curiosity Cube.
For example, after learning about what impacts their microbiome at the test tube station they can change their eating habits to change it.
“I definitely think connecting STEM to real-life instances allows kids to have their curiosity sparked,” DeMariano said.
In addition to providing experiences to interact with science, DeMariano said that having real, Laramie-local scientists give children a chance to see that scientists can look like them and thrive in their community.