On Saturday, February 23, 2019 Arizona State University at the Tempe campus hosted its annual Night of the Open Door from 1:00 to 6:00pm. This was the fourth year that the Embryo Project (EP) team participated in the Night of the Open Door.
Thousands of people came to the event and enjoyed various interactive activities throughout campus. The EP team prepared two activities: modeling clay embryos and spinning a fortune wheel with pictures of different animal embryos. Both activities were educational, fun and engaging for all audiences.
Early embryonic development is fascinating, but too small to see with the naked eye, so the EP team magnified embryos at one month of development with clay models. This allowed visitors to see, make, and touch important early structures such as optic cups and auditory vesicles.
For the other activity, visitors spun the wheel of embryos and guessed what animals those embryos represented. Many children and even adults were surprised how similar different animals look at the early embryonic stage.
Dina Ziganshina, a Biology and Society PhD student and EP Editor in Chief led the night, joined by EP students and Biology and Society grads Carolina Abboud, Kelle Dhein, Christian Ross, and Ajeet Bains. Christian and Ajeet helped dozens of children make clay embryos and taught them about early development, while Carolina and Kelle cheered visitors to spin the embryo wheel and guess what animal the embryos represented. Overall, this was an incredibly fun night for everyone in attendance!
All participants received prizes such as embryo stickers and trading cards with fun facts about embryology. The prizes and activities were designed to connect visitors with the Embryo Project Encyclopedia, an online Open Access publication that increases scientific literacy in non-specialist audiences about reproductive and developmental biology. By the end of the night, hundreds of individuals had stickers and trading cards pointing them to the Encyclopedia.
The Embryo Project team is looking forward to participating in the Night of the Open Door next year!