When 500 high school students descended on Barton Community College, asking them to put away their cell phones would have been pointless. Instead, Tanna Cooper, director of admissions, invited them to get on their favorite social media and post selfies and tweets with #gobarton and #jksd.
Barton’s 11th annual Jack Kilby Science Day was held Thursday, with students from 20 high schools and four gifted programs attending. The event is named after the man who made all of those smartphones and hashtags possible, one could argue. Jack Kilby, a Great Bend High School graduate and Nobel Prize winner in Physics, invented the integrated circuit, or microchip.
Another famous Jack contributed to this year’s JKSD. Although Jungle Jack Hanna was not present, he was scheduled to speak Thursday evening at a program organized by the Great Bend Zoological Society on behalf of Brit Spaugh Zoo. Hanna’s team from the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo & Aquarium arrived with several animals, and presented the opening session in the BCC Fine Arts Auditorium.
Brian Greene, Beth Nagoda and Samantha Abrams shared the stage with baby animals, including a kangaroo, African serval cat and an Australian echidna, is one of the rarest animals in the world. There were also two baby cougars found recently by firefighters in Montana, a two-toed sloth, an Asian palm civet, a cheetah and a yellow Labrador. The dog is a playmate for the cheetah.
Most of the animal species featured are endangered in the wild, Greene said. Servals are a lesser African cat, but on the black market their pelts are sometimes passed off as baby cheetah hides.
The handlers noted that careers are available for animals lovers – in Great Bend and around the world. “If this is something you want to do, there are opportunities,” Green said.
After the morning program, students dispersed to classrooms throughout the campus for two breakout sessions on a menu of more than a dozen science-related topics, including chemistry, physics, DNA and biology. For example, Dan Wells from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment explained why Great Bend’s Veterans Memorial Lake has a year-round problem with blue-green algae, and shared possible solutions.
The final event of the day was an academic carnival and lunch, with free pizza in the Kirkman Gymnasium, where several information booths were also set up.
Dr. Richard Abel, Barton’s dean of academics, said the first JKSD brought 100 students to the campus, and for the last five years the event has drawn more than 500 students. The event was sponsored by Farmers Bank & Trust and the Great Bend Kiwanis Club, and was presented at no charge.
LSH escapee caught in Utah