Archive for the ‘events’ Category

Summer Streets with New York Botanical Garden

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Things on the BioBus were simply floral during a NYBG street fair on Saturday, August 13, 2011. The fair was held to celebrate Farmers’ Market Week, and it is safe to say that there was a large variety of produce offered by both NYBG stands and the actual farmers’ market. There, the BioBus’ staff (comprised of Dr. Ben, Nikki, Juliana, & Jordan) bought some beautiful bouquets hosting a variety of flowers…most of which were immediately brutalized by one Juliana (an intern at the BioBus) via scalpel. These lovely dissected samples were not wasted though! No, every and each sliver was carefully placed under the BioBus’s stereo microscopes under high magnification. Many children learned about the reproductive aspects of those flowers: where the specific organs are located and how a flower is pollinated. Some even got a short description of a plant’s vascular tissue, by yours truly. All the while, each person was given a sheet of paper containing visual aids with labeled arrows to aid them in their search for the plant reproductive organs.

“He’s so amazed; he’s trying to look at every part of the flower,” exclaimed an enthused mother, whose son was preoccupied with a

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bright red specimen.

These sheets even had spaces laid out for everyone, mainly the children, to draw what he had seen! Everything that was viewed, from the original flowers to their magnified samples were messily recorded and pasted onto the bus itself, and there they stayed until the event’s end.

The festival was a great success; as a man on a loud speaker announced, people were caught groaning that they had to leave. That made me snort. It was a long couple of hours that were extremely enjoyable.



—Jordan Sutphen

The BioBus’ Third Annual Visit to the Gathering of the Vibes

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

From July 21st  to July 24th, 2011, the BioBus was busy attending the Gathering of the Vibes, a four day music festival in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was a huge hit and as word spread about its powerful microscopes depicting an almost alien world of creatures, people flocked to sneak a peek. A local radio station interviewed Sarah Weisberg about the BioBus, and numerous listeners who heard it on their way to the festival couldn’t wait to see for themselves.

Every morning at 11:00 AM, Dr. Ben and his anxious helpers would visit the water during high tide and collect samples. The samples would be observed throughout the day utilizing the professional microscopes. They were extremely diverse: krill, snails, lipids, barnacles, baby starfish, sand worms, crabs, and hermit crabs were just a few of the organisms collected from the Long Island Sound that fascinated the spectators. Once the festival-goers were taught to use a microscope they would visit the white pail teeming with life and choose what to discover next. A young man stood in awe in front of the screen projecting the magnified barnacles and exclaimed it appeared to be another world—one of the many reactions to seeing organisms that, without a microscope, appeared to be little more than tiny moving specks. Those fascinated by the BioBus would often come back later with companions and introduce them to an unbelievable new way to look at ordinary animals. People of all ages realized that there was so much more in our world than what can be perceived through the naked eye.


—Juliana Castrillon

SciTech Education Camp—BioBus Style

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011 was a distinct day for the little scientist going to SciTech Education Camp, a summer camp hosted by the New York Junior League. On that day, they were scheduled for an entertaining visit by New York’s very own BioBus! As they came to class, they were greeted by bona fide volunteer scientists (Clare Walton from Rockefeller) who came to help both Dr. Ben Dubin-Thaler (BioBus founder) and Sarah Weisberg (Dr.Ben’s good friend and co-conspirator) with their lesson for the day.

So, at about 9:00 the kiddies arrived in pairs of two—holding hand as they navigated the roads of Manhattan—looking more like scientists than the actual ones in their stylish white lab coats. When they arrived with their minders, they were instantly greeted by Sarah Weisberg. She was the one who would be doing the teaching for the day! She ushered them to the street curb and started the lesson off with a tour of the BioBus’ exterior. Ms. Weisberg explained to them how the BioBus worked without being “plugged into a wall,” as some of the children put it, by pointing out some of its fascinating features, such as its solar panels and turbine. Then it was off to one of the lakes in Central Park, where the students collected samples of water, and a few creepy-crawlies, using high-tech standard equipment (pipettes and test tubes). They then went back to the BioBus to view their findings under some of the BioBus’ famous research-grade microscopes. There, the kids discovered that there were, in fact, organisms smaller than “ants!”

They saw demonstrations on how to use that equipment and then got to use it themselves! Many stared open-mouthed at a daphnia found in the water samples as they viewed its twitching body parts and beating heart! Some even believed they witnessed some unknown flagellated microorganism race across the microscope screen. The day was a long one for the little scientists though, so it was cut short when they left to return to their class on aching feet. Then, after the microscopes were packed up, the turbine was taken down, and everything was sorted out by Ben and Sarah, the bus took off and revved down the street—on to its next stop at its next gig: the local deli. Hey, scientists have to eat too.

—Jordan Sutphen

Comic Book Super Heros: BioBus & Dr. Ben

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

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National Geographic Weekend Radio on BioBus

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The BioBus has been doing a lot of traveling over the last few months. We’ve been to Indianapolis, Illinois, Columbus, all over New Jersey, Connecticut, and we’re currently in Albany; all in addition to a packed schedule in the 5 boroughs of New York.

When we were at a public charter school in the Northeast section of Washington D.C., we were honored by a visit from Ben Shaw, a producer for National Geographic Weekend, a popular radio show hosted by Boyd Matson. It’s a pretty funny segment, and you can listen to it here:

National Geographic Weekend Segment on BioBus

Stay tuned for new and awesome videos of paint drying that we recorded yesterday at PS/IS 18 in Inwood.

Doc Ben

Beat It!

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

BioBus spent the day at the Beczak Environmental Center yesterday. The center is on the banks of the Hudson River, where you can gaze across the frigid, brackish waters to the ice covered cliffs of the Palisades across the way. The center focuses on the ecology and geology of the Hudson River, and they have a set of super cool hands-on activities that allow students to explore and learn about the environment.

They invited the BioBus there to work with two of their student groups, and we had a lot of fun checking out various crustaceans and protists. Check out one of the movies the students made of a paramecium, where you can see lots of beating cilia and chunky organelles inside:

And if you have time, please join us later today (Saturday, Feb 20) at the Williamsburg Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The BioBus will be there from 12-1:30 putting on a special program for Green Apple Kids, but people of all ages are welcome to stop by!


Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The BioBus visited the amazing Solar1 today! If you live in NYC and haven’t been there before, it is at 23rd Street right on the East River and you should definitely visit. They have a beach!! And a building with a roof entirely made of solar panels. Thanks Colin and Chris for bringing the bus in there. With their help I am going to develop a  renewable energy and ecology curriculum for the BioBus.


Gabriella's Beautiful Micrograph

Gabriella's Beautiful Micrograph

While there, we had some very nice visitors. First Tim, an NYU ecology student, Susan, a teacher at the Columbia School, and Joan and her daughter Gabriella, a student at the Earth School, came for a tour of the bus. Gabriella already had her microscope operator’s license, and she jumped right in, showing us the different parts of the microscope and then taking some very nice images of DNA and cytoplasm of some cells. One of her images is shown here.


Colin then gave me a tour of the park, which, as I mentioned, has a beach! It is really beautiful and when the tide is low the beach is even bigger and nicer, according to Colin. When we got back to the bus, John, a teacher at City-As-School, along with a group of his students, were checking out the bus. They had been on a walking tour of the city, and heard the rumor that the BioBus was in town, so they stopped by. We had a really nice conversation about the history of the project and then toured the lab and watched some cell movies. If I am lucky some of those students might do an internship with the BioBus, which would be very neat. I was really impressed by how nice that group of students were, I really hope that some of them get involved with the project.


Colin and Tim Looking at the Receding Cloud Front

Colin and Tim Looking at the Receding Cloud Front

Frederick Douglas Academy III

Friday, December 12th, 2008

The BioBus just finished an amazing week at FDA III in the Bronx. On the first day, we brought all of the 10th grade students through the bus. The rest of the week we brought interested students from the first day back to the bus for a day of lab work. In the lab work we had two major goals – first, to figure out the nature of the bright spots in the hoechst labeling (labels DNA) of our fixed cells, and second to identify and make movies of some locally collected cells. For now, I will post one image and one movie, but soon I will make a new page with all of the hypotheses and data that the students came up with over the week.

Hoechst (DNA, blue) and phalloidin (actin cytoskeleton, green)

Hoechst (DNA, blue) and phalloidin (actin cytoskeleton, green). Sample prep by Tomas, microscopy by Wilson & analysis by Bo and Chris.


Dividing Bacteria from Crotona Park Pond. (Movie is in real time). Made by Princess and Taccara (P&T Productions).

BioBus in the News

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

The BioBus visited the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum yesterday. We had a great time – first with the Girl’s Do Science club, after which we opened our doors to the public for three hours. About fifty people throughout the day got a chance to look at all manner of strange microscopic creatures. Thanks to Jeanette, Virginia, and Alex for helping out with everything, and to Meadow and Elaine at the Orpheum for helping to organize the visit. We also had the local newspaper crew come by and they wrote a really nice story about the BioBus that came out this morning: News-Gazette Story on BioBus.

Tomorrow I will be driving to Columbus, where I am going to do some work on the bus at a family run bus garage there. Felling a little sad to leave my home here in Urbana, but I am to have some memories in the form of some great micrographs and photographs. Here is the star of the afternoon, an amoeba from the Boneyard Creek. There is also a diatom moving around next to it – that is the long canoe shaped cell. 

Second Day at Leal

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Protozoa, bacteria, and algae at ~400x magnification

The last group of students from Leal just left the bus and Ric and I starting to pack up. Over the last two days, 18 of 19 of the Leal classrooms came through for a total of more than 400 students. All sorts of exciting single and multi-cellular life forms showed themselves to us under the microscope, and we had a great time watching bacteria, protozoa and even some small animals swim,  crawl and wriggle by. We learned that everything alive is made of cells and that bacteria are the smallest cells. Also, one of the fourth grade classes from yesterday came back through today for a look at fluorescent cytoskeletons and DNA on our fluorescence microscope.

Ric and I also got a chance to practice our spanish with some of the spanish language classes while looking at  ”las cellulas del rio.” I still forget to roll my ‘r’ sometime, and Ric is definitely a better speaker than me! ‘El rio’ in question was The Boneyard, a creek (OK, not quite a river) that runs through the center of Urbana, only a few blocks from the school. I am very grateful to Yvonne and Spencer for all of their organizing work, as well as all the PTA and teachers for raising money for the visit. 

Microscope Lab setup at Leal

Microscope Lab setup at Leal