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Students Learn, Dine With Scientists
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Students learned about careers in science, hearing the information from the scientists themselves at the Oakdale Joint Unified School District’s annual Dinner with a Scientist. Janet Hamby, Vice Principal of Fair Oaks Elementary School, was the organizer for the event this year that took place on Oct. 13 at the Almond Pavilion. The 82 students who participated ranged from sixth grade through high school age. There were 13 scientists who attended the evening, many returning from past years, including a few newcomers with veterinarian Dr. Mike Adian, anatomy and physiology specialist Michele Monlux, and physics specialist Thomas Nomof.

The event allows students to view different scientific display booths prior to the event and then choose which scientists they would like to dine with, three in all, throughout the evening.

Lynn Hansen, a retired professor of Biological Science at Modesto Junior College was the keynote speaker for the evening. Hamby reported that Hansen spoke about some of the adventures and travels she done in the name of science.

Hansen’s topic covered her travels to Florida to study and help the manatees and to Midway Island to study the albatross. She talked about what was learned each time through the studies of the species and how the scientists applied their knowledge to help the animals survive.

“Woven throughout this speech were words of encouragement and areas of science study students could go into, or even changes students could make in their everyday lives that may make a difference – (for example) reducing plastics would help the albatross,” Hamby said.

Hansen also spoke of her work with sea turtles and helping them during the egg-laying phase in order to help the species be more successful.

“The students got to meet and greet all of the scientists and get to know a little more about each of their areas of study,” Hamby explained.

By dining with a different scientist during each course of the meal, the students had the opportunity to have more in-depth conversation with the scientists and learn more about what they do and the amount of education required as well.