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Curiosity Cube Brings Cutting-Edge Science to Local Schools

by on September 21, 2017 5:00 AM

Students at area schools are getting a chance this week to check out advanced scientific technology and learn through hands-on experiments as the "Curiosity Cube" visits Centre County.

The Curiosity Cube -- a retrofitted 22 feet long, 10 feet high shipping container turned into a mobile science lab -- is an outreach initiative of life sciences company MilliporeSigma. The cube is traveling the country to areas where the company has sites to bring interactive science to kids and help spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and math careers. Supelco in Bellefonte is part of MilliporeSigma.

This is the first year for the Curiosity Cube tour, which began in March. Centre County is the 15th stop.

"This is one of our science education outreach programs," said Kaely Zeiser, Curiosity Cube coordinator. "We’re bringing hands-on science to kids and the local community."

On Wednesday, the cube was at Mount Nittany Middle School and it also will be at Wingate Elementary and Bellefonte Middle School this week. On Saturday, it will be open to the public from noon to 3 p.m. at the Patton Township Children's Fair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Colonnade. (Editor's note: It was previously scheduled to be outside the new Discovery Space building, but has been moved to the fair in the Target and Wegman's parking lots.) 

Staff from the Bellefonte location are on hand at each local stop to talk to students about different scientific subjects and lead them in experiments and trying out the technology

"They come out here and a lot of them are scientists and they get to teach kids within their community about science for the day," Zeiser said.

The Curiosity Cube involves three stations. At the first, students learn about the role of DNA and do an experiment where they extract their own.

The second is the brain station. After learning about the cerebellum, students check out two microscopes that have human brain cells --one with cancerous cells and another from a healthy brain. The station also has gestural interface technology, where by using hand motions individuals can move around a 3-D skull on a screen and simply point to learn about specific areas.

A station with 3-D printers, meanwhile, provides an opportunity to learn about how they are being used in science. They're not the biological 3-D printers MilliporeSigma labs use, but they help students visualize how, for example, scientists are using human cells and filaments to create ears and noses for transplants. Students also create their own nanobots.

Zeiser said students have enjoyed the Curiosity Cube because they get to experience something new.

"They love it because it’s just something very different," she said. "They get to come outside and come into the Curiosity Cube and learn about three different things. And they get to do hands-on experiments."

It's also gotten a positive response from teachers.

"The teachers think it’s great because a lot of the technologies we have in the cube they may not have in their schools," Zeiser said."The microscopes have screens on them and we have our gestural technology and 3-D printers. A lot of times schools don’t have them and if we can bring them to schools that don’t have those types of labs then it’s a whole new learning opportunity for the students."

See photos in the gallery below.

Photo Gallery - Curiosity Cube

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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