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Super Science Saturday at JCC this weekend


Maggots and colons and laser shows, oh my!

The sixth annual “Super Science Saturday,” an event geared toward children in fifth through eighth grades, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday at Jefferson Community College.

“I have found that students entering high school tend to shy away from math and science areas when the difficulty increases,” said Patricia K. Jaacks, event co-chairwoman and JCC associate professor of biology. “This is to encourage them to stick it out when it gets difficult.”

Each participating child is given a “passport” to be stamped at various stations, such as the inflatable 20-foot-long, walk-through colon exhibit.

That exhibit, new this year, will show visitors how to maintain colon health. It was purchased by the JCC Campus Activities Board in memory of biology professor Peter N. Gaskin, who passed away in 2011 after battling colon cancer. There will be a dedication ceremony at noon on Saturday.

Some of Mrs. Jaacks’s students will be stationed at different parts of the campus dressed as bacteria, viruses and nematodes. To get their passport stamped, children need to interview the students and find out whether the micro-organisms they represent are disease-causing or good for the body.

“We’ll have salmonella walking around campus,” Mrs. Jaacks said jokingly.

Mrs. Jaacks said approximately 974 passports were given out to children last year, meaning the actual turnout, which also often includes younger children, parents and grandparents, may have been double that number.

Children who fill their passports can enter a drawing to win an iPod Shuffle, a year-long family membership to the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, a $50 gift card to Walmart or an admission ticket to the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse.

In addition to the 13 JCC exhibits, there will be 15 exhibits from community groups including Guilfoyle and town of Watertown ambulance services, Fort Drum Explosive Ordnance Division and the Wellesley Island Minna Anthony Common Nature Center.

Mrs. Jaacks said she hopes the event will inspire students to do better in their science and math courses.

“If students keep studying math and science, that can really give them a good foundation in whatever career they want to pursue,” she said.

“Super Science Saturday” will be canceled only if travel advisories are posted because of inclement weather, according to Mrs. Jaacks.

“In that case, we’ll just have it next year,” she said.

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