What do marine biologists, aerospace engineers, funeral embalmers and acupuncturists have in common?
For starters, they all work in Lawrence. On Friday, they were among 33 of the city's professionals who descended on South Junior High for a series of presentations in the school's science classes.
For Elise Schnose, a seventh-grader, the presentations were a change of pace from her normal science class, where she's been learning about the periodic table of elements and about atoms.
Although most of the school's 570 students were able to sit in on just one presentation, she was one of the lucky few who heard several. She saw slides of underwater life shown by a Kansas University marine biologist, and she heard a presentation on body image and eating disorders given by a dietitian at KU's Watson Health Clinic.
"It was interesting about how people starve themselves because they think they're fat when they're normal weight," she said.
For Jim Stilwell, an engineer at Aerotech Engineering Research Inc. in Lawrence, the day provided an opportunity to preach about the importance of science in everybody's life. He demonstrated a small sheet of state-of-the-art shape-memory nickel-titanium alloy, which "remembers" and returns to its original shape when dented.
He spoke about how science plays a role in almost everybody's life: Chemical engineers design factories to produce soft drinks; mechanical engineers design the parts for the cars that junior high students hope to be driving soon.
"I hope that some of them will become engineers, that some of them will become scientists," Stilwell said. "Many people don't realize that science affects everything they do."